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Debate on President’s Address: Hazel Poa says “allow CPF members who have lost their jobs to borrow from their own CPF accounts”

“The fact that these savings are being withheld for their future needs is scant comfort in the face of immediate distress," said Ms Poa

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During the debate on the President’s Address on Wednesday (Sep 2), Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Hazel Poa pushed for more flexibility in the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme, to allow CPF savings be a source of financial security at all times.

In her speech, Ms Poa also called for a review of the Job Support Scheme or JSS. The JSS gives companies wage subsidies in an effort to keep jobs. She referred to it as a “blanket measure” that also pays companies that do not require any wage subsidy.

She added that the scheme should be reviewed because of “companies that continue to pay million dollar executive salaries” yet still make use of the grant.

Just like fellow NCMP Mr Leong Mun Wai, Ms Poa also added that the JSS for citizens and PRs should also be differentiated to underline the difference in the government’s duty and obligations to these two groups. “The first duty of any government is always to its own citizens”, she added.

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In her speech, Ms Poa also raised a suggestion called-for by many Singaporeans.

She said: “16. Another way we can help families cope with the financial stress caused by Covid-19 is to allow CPF members who have lost their jobs to borrow from their own CPF accounts. These loans can be repaid after finding new employment”.

“The fact that these savings are being withheld for their future needs is scant comfort in the face of immediate distress. Coupled with the later withdrawal age and steadily increasing minimum sum, it is fuelling dissatisfaction or even mistrust in our CPF system”, Ms Poa added.

She suggested that the government explore a hybrid system, where individuals build up their own retirement sums as much as they can, and government steps in after their retirement to help them cope with the effects of inflation. /TISG

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