Singapore’s retirement scheme would be feasible in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2016, 5:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2016, 5:23pm

A recent survey showed that Hong Kong people tend to feel insecure about their future, especially about their living standards after retirement.

Clothing, food, housing, transport as well as medical care are the basic necessities for a retiree. The employed population here is required to join the Mandatory Provident Fund scheme and make regular contributions.

The accrued benefits generated from the MPF, as well as personal savings and investments of the retiree, are all that most people have when they retire.

However, the MPF has always been criticised for its high fees and low performance, which eats away at accrued benefits. Also, the amount of money a person could save each month depends not only on one’s financial philosophy but also the financial burdens you face.

Workers earning low wages might not be able to save much after paying for basic necessities. And the spending power of a retiree can sometimes be affected by inflation.

The Singaporean Central Provident Fund is worth looking at. Similar to the MPF, it requires all working Singaporeans to save money.

Yet the money contributed to the fund not only creates a retirement sum, but also pays for each person’s housing and health care. Under the CPF scheme, each Singaporean starts saving for his own housing, medical care and retirement from the day he joins the workforce.

The proportion of income Singaporeans must contribute to the CPF is much higher than that of the MPF, which might upset wage earners in the short run. Yet the long-term benefits of the CPF scheme are obvious.

It creates a society where each individual could pay for himself, and each generation could pay for itself without extending its financial burden to the next generation. Today, 90 per cent of Singapore households are home owners, Singaporeans can pay for their medical care by their medisave account, and their retirement account guarantees basic needs can be met during old age.

Given that Hong Kong has an ageing population, there is an urgent need for the government to optimise the current social policy and develop sustainable strategies that could give people some sense of security in their future lives as well as help them provide for their retirement without relying too much on the government.

Having a secure shelter, affordable medical care and a carefree retired life are achievable goals in Hong Kong.

Justine Y. K. Wu, Tuen Mun