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“We are helping older Singaporeans stay in the workforce, so that they can earn and save more for retirement” – Heng Swee Keat

The Finance Minister comment that older Singaporeans “wish to continue working” mirrors Josephine Teo’s earlier remark that Singaporeans want to work longer and save more.

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Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat revealed today that the Government is “helping older Singaporeans stay in the workforce, so that they can earn and save more for retirement,” as he delivered his budget speech in Parliament, today.

Asserting that some older Singaporeans “wish to continue working,” Heng said in his speech:

“With increasing lifespans, we are also helping older Singaporeans stay in the workforce, so that they can earn and save more for retirement…We are doing more to help older Singaporeans earn more, save more, and have greater peace of mind during their retirement years.”

To this end Heng said that the Government is initiating the following:

  • A Tripartite Workgroup “to study the concerns of older workers” and review “policies such as the retirement and re-employment age, and the CPF contribution rates of older workers”;
  • Changes to the Special Employment Credit (SEC) scheme “in response to labour market and economic conditions”; and
  • The new Additional SEC (ASEC) scheme “to encourage employers to hire workers who are above the re-employment age”; and
  • Extension of the SEC and ASEC until 31 December 2020. Heng said that he is topping up the SEC Fund by S$366 million to support these extensions.
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Heng said that he is “happy that companies have responded by hiring older workers, tapping on their experiences, and supporting them in upgrading their skills.” He added:

“With a tighter labour market, and more Singaporeans choosing to work longer, more companies will be hiring older workers. The Government will study better forms of support to continue to help workers to remain productive, earn more, and save more for retirement.”

He further characterised welfare schemes to help Singaporeans as forces that weaken people’s sense of agency and independence”:

“We are improving the lives of our people, by enabling them to be the best that they can be. We enhance our people’s sense of well-being and dignity, without the burden of welfare schemes elsewhere, which weaken people’s sense of agency and independence.

Heng’s comment that seniors choose to work longer mirrors Manpower Minister Josephine Teo’s remarks last month that the Payout Eligibility Age for CPF will not be lowered because employees seem to prefer to work longer and save more than take out their CPF earlier.

This article is part of The Independent’s Budget 2019 coverage. Please send your feedback and enquiries to news@theindependent.sg.

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