image

Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF)

Why Hong Kong business opposition to Carrie Lam’s MPF solution is capitalism taken too far

  • There is nothing wrong with profit in and of itself. But there is certainly something wrong with an obsession with profit
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2018, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2018, 5:00pm

I was not surprised at the comments made by Federation of Hong Kong Industries chairman Jimmy Kwok Chun-wah after the chief executive’s policy address (“MPF offset subsidy boosted to HK$29.3 billion – but gripes continue”, October 10). Mr Kwok said: “I support the direction the government is heading … but for now, there isn’t enough ground to back the [MPF subsidy] proposal.”

While there is definitely no doubt whatsoever that the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) offsetting arrangement Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor put forward is a well-negotiated solution among stakeholders, the MPF system has unveiled the huge flaw of a capitalism that is obsessed with profit maximisation.

There is nothing wrong with profit in and of itself. But there is certainly something wrong with an obsession with profit. The government created a system that undermined employee’s benefits. And capitalism, by maximising profits, creates a system that denies other values. In the case of the MPF, those who oppose the values of a universal pension scheme may do so just because those values are in some way at odds with maximising profit and undermine their interests.

Hong Kong’s MPF ranks near bottom globally for adequate preparation

Why would the abolition of the unwelcome aspect in a defined contribution retirement scheme, albeit privately run, become the enemy of countless Hong Kong employers who will fortunately be compensated from the public purse soon? Logically, it would have made more sense for Kwok’s comment to have been phrased this way instead: “For now, is there any ground not to back the MPF offsetting by the taxpayer’s money?” At the end of the day and at any rate, Hong Kong would still be the most-sought-after financial centre from the capitalist point of view.

Mike Cheung, Mid-Levels