SINGAPORE — The focus of this year’s Budget will be about building Singapore’s future, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in terms of securing assurance in retirement for today’s and tomorrow’s seniors, as well as preparing Singaporeans for fulfilling careers.
Giving a glimpse of what Singaporeans can expect when he delivers the Budget in three weeks, Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister, said initiatives addressing retirement adequacy and helping Singaporeans, both those still in school and mid-career, have good careers will be announced.
“Providing assurance in retirement for our seniors is a very important priority — not just for today’s generation of seniors, but those in future as well. It is a strengthening of our social security system,” he said, adding that the Government is in the final stages of shaping the Silver Support scheme.
Announced at last year’s National Day Rally by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the scheme will disburse bonus payouts to Singaporeans from the age of 65, to supplement payouts from their own Central Provident Fund accounts. Mr Lee had said that CPF and the public housing programme might still not have enabled a minority of elderly, of about 10 to 20 per cent, to save enough for retirement, and that the Government and society must do more to help them.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a community event held yesterday in his Taman Jurong ward, Mr Tharman said: “We want to provide greater assurance, particularly for the lower-income seniors — those who have had low wages for a good part of their lives, and don’t have much savings.”
But he added that Budget 2015, which is on Singapore’s 50th year of independence, will also be about the “important endeavour” of creating good careers for young and mid-career Singaporeans.
“We’ve always got to look to the future — anticipate the challenges, prepare our people and equip them with the capabilities and the expertise that they need to do well, individually as well as collectively as Singapore,” said Mr Tharman.
“That is the way in which things add up. It is our education and our skills — skills that will give us a good future, and that then allow us to also look after our elderly well.”
Mr Tharman added that this year’s Budget will be a continuation of steps that the Government has taken, particularly in the last five years, which are “significantly transforming” Singapore’s economic and social landscapes.
Steps taken in recent years include the healthcare-centred Pioneer Generation Package for seniors born before 1950 and who became citizens before 1987, and strengthening the affordability of housing for lower and middle-income groups.
Separately, the advisory panel appointed last September to study CPF-related issues said over the weekend that it would recommend allowing people to make a partial lump-sum withdrawals — of about 20 per cent, possibly — of their CPF savings at age 65, even if they have not met the Minimum Sum.
It will also ask that those who want to put more savings into their CPF accounts beyond the Minimum Sum, to receive higher monthly payouts later on, be allowed to do so, panel chairman Professor Tan Chorh Chuan was reported as saying.
The panel will submit its first set of recommendations, on the Minimum Sum and lump-sum withdrawals, to the Government this week. It will submit a second set of recommendations on CPF payouts and returns in the middle of the year.
news source & image credits: todayonline.com