The PAP asks the question: What if retirees are given back their CPF savings and they squander it, leaving themselves, thereafter, with little to survive on?$CUT$
For the purposes of this discussion, let us assume (and it is a big assumption) that the PAP is genuinely concerned about retirees not spending their money wisely and turning to the government for handouts when the funds run out.
Its answer is to retain the savings and give the money back in bits and pieces. Is this necessarily the best or the most prudent solution? Or is it just the easy one? The ministers were hardly challenged when the scheme was introduced more than 20 years ago. For example,
1. Are CPF savings sufficient for retirement in the first place?
Data suggest that the majority of Singaporeans have insufficient CPF savings to see them through retirement. This is because their funds have been diverted to pay for their HDB flats and Medisave accounts.
So if our retirees are broke, it is not because they are profligate but they don’t have enough savings in the first place.
2. How many people actually have enough savings but squander it?
The PAP has provided little data to back up its claim that Singaporeans will blow their savings. Is it fact or mere assertion that retirees are extravagant with their savings? The Government must present the findings and put them up for scrutiny.
3. How are older workers going to compete with younger, foreign ones?
The Government makes the assumption that Singaporeans will be productively employed even as they get older. The problem is that it continues to encourage foreign workers to compete with our older workers.
The Government has not thought through how, on the one hand, it raises the retirement age and together with it the CPF withdrawal age while, on the other, make it more difficult for older workers to compete for jobs.
4. How has the Government helped the poor?
The PAP raises the spectre of taxpayers having to foot the bill if our elderly outlive their retirement savings. In the first place, do our retirees have enough to survive on (see question #1). Secondly, if a retiree is intent on squandering his savings, what’s to prevent him from doing it with his monthly Minimum Sum instalments? Couldn’t he borrow the funds and use his monthly CPF pay-outs to service the loans? He remains penniless.
Besides, the Government has always done little to nothing for the elderly poor. This is why we see so many having to work as cleaners to survive and why couples continue to struggle not just to provide for their children but elderly parents as well. Why the sudden concern by the PAP for poor retirees?
5. Why does the PAP encourage vice which tempt retirees?
If the PAP is truly concerned with Singaporeans being prudent with their finances, why did it build casinos and allow other vice activities to tempt retirees to part with their money?
These questions about the Minimum Sum Scheme are the most fundamental and pressing ones that the PAP has not been made to answer.
They will also be the ones SDP MPs will ask if elected. So help us get into Parliament. Join our GE2015 Campaign Kick-Off this Saturday at the Holiday Inn Atrium, Outram Road starting at 2pm.