CPF Retirement Sum increased to $166,000. CPF Life to start at 67?

Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board has just increased the CPF Retirement Sum (previously known as the Minimum Sum, name was changed due to negative connotations) to S$166,000 as of 1 Jan 2017. The S$5,000 from the previous year is a 3.1% increase – higher than the 1.3% core inflation rate as of November 2016.

At the same time, re-employment age has been increased from 65 to 67. This move will likely increase the CPF Life annuity payout age from 65 to 67, delaying Singaporeans’ retirement age by a further 2 years. Since the re-employment age was raised from 55, the CPF payout age always increase and follow suit.

During Parliament’s session on Monday (Jan 9), all ruling party MPs expressed support for the increase in re-employment age.

Raising the re-employment age however is at best a public relation stunt as employers reserve the rights to retrench older employees indirectly via lowering of salaries, placing them on short-term contracts and increasing of workload. According Nominated MP Randolph Tan, more employers are circumventing the re-employment law by introducing term contracts.

“In June 2007, 25 per cent of resident employees aged 60 and over were on term contracts. Almost a decade later, in June 2015, we still have 21 per cent of resident employees aged 60 and above (who) were on term contracts. The regulatory burden of the new legislation may drive more employers to place older employees on term contracts.”

Opposition NCMP Daniel Goh outright rejected and dismissed the re-employment age law:

“The one-year term contract, or a three-year contract, to be reviewed yearly, sustains a sense of insecurity (around) contract review and renewal, which is not the right way to treat a senior employee and colleague.”

Most elderly in Singapore work in low income jobs like cleaners and security guards, taking home around S$9,00 a month after CPF tax deductions.

The Singapore government is currently delaying withdrawal age, withdrawal limit and depressing interest rates of the CPF sum for undisclosed reasons. Public speculations are however rife that the two sovereign wealth fund companies, Temasek Holdings headed by the Prime Minister’s wife, and GIC, headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, are losing billions in overseas investments.

- The StatesTimes.

Ang Mo Kio Town Council Scandal

I refer to the article “CPIB probes Ang Mo Kio Town Council’s general manager” (http://theindependent.sg/cpib-probes-amk-town-councils-general-manager).

It states that “a general manager and secretary of Ang Mo Kio Town Council is under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) for “the way he handles contracts and dealings in the town council”. The general manager and secretary, Mr Victor Wong (picture), works for CPG Facilities Management. He has been put on forced leave.”

Conflict of interest?

Isn’t it a conflict of interest for an employee of the town council’s managing agent to be also the general manager and secretary of the town council?

After reading the subject news article – as a resident of Aljunied town council – I googled “aljunied town council conflict of interest secretary managing agent” and found the following:-

Same conflicts of interest flagged by Aljunied’s auditor?

“These were among several improper payments that the town council made to managing agent FM Solutions and Services (FMSS) and service provider FM Solutions and Integrated Services (FMSI), said KPMG.

Such improper payments were made in a situation where there were “control failures” and conflicts of interest, as the shareholders of the two companies were holding key management positions in the town council.

These include a failure to address serious conflicts of interest and a lack of meaningful oversight by town councillors, it added.

KPMG identified six FMSS shareholders who held key management posts in AHTC, such as secretary, general manager, and finance manager – creating a conflict of interest” (“AHTC failed to address conflicts of interest, says independent auditor KPMG” (Straits Times, Nov 7).

Why same conflict of interest in Ang Mo Kio?

In view of the the independent auditor, KPMG’s report on Aljunied town council regarding “serious conflicts of interest” – why do we have similar conflicts of interest in Ang Mo Kio town council?

Other town councils also have conflicts of interest?

Are there such conflicts of interest in the other town councils as well?

No action, talk only (NATO (about others))?

If so, what actions have such town councils taken, given that KPMG flagged such “serious conflicts of interest” in town councils?

For how long already?

How long have these conflicts of interest been going on?

GM replacement also same conflict of interest?

The Town Council has appointed another employee of CPG, Mr Lim Kian Chiong, as an acting general manager of the town council, but why are we still continuing to have such similar conflicts of interest?

Do town council councilors understand the meaning of “conflicts of interest”?

Mr Ang Hin Kee, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC said, “if there are declarations to be made, if there are interests to declare, the people involved (must) make those declarations”.  But do town councilors understand the meaning of “conflicts of interest”?

Mr Ang also assured residents that the MPs of the GRC do personally check on projects performed by its contractors to ensure oversight, but isn’t all these kind of superfluous when ‘serious conflicts of interest’ are already inherent and embedded in the town council system?

By: Leong Sze Hian
But don't you worry. I'm sure the CPIB will return a finding that there was 'no dishonesty' involved like what PA did in 2015 in the similar case of Tonic Oh, Chairman of the Admiralty ward of Sembawang GRC.
The whole TC committee is in complicit with the conflict of interest. If they deny knowing or even think it's wrong, they are unfit to be in office to serve the people. I think CPIB should include them in their investigation. Then again, CPIB is under PMs control so again we see another conflict of interest. Corruption is pervasive.
Busy counting money no time to do own self check. Only when serious issue pops up then they say the law or policies outdated. Where's the passion to serve and what have they done other than raise costs of living for selfish reasons .. makes you now understand "own self check " is actually mean "being selfish ".
Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. PAP should keep its own TCs in order before they watch over AHTC like a hawk and whack them over the slightest thing. And where are the HDB Ministers Khaw and Lawrence Wong who are usually full of motherhood statements?
Same problem with the prime minister and his Wife on Temasek holdings. If that is not a conflict of interest then this is not?
"MPs of the GRC do personally check on projects performed by its contractors". Come on Mr Ang, you think we people as stupid as you?
If they had personally checked on projects as they now claimed, why didn't they detect these corrupted practices much earlier and reported the bugger themselves instead of waiting for a whistle blower to blow the matter out of the water?
I am looking forward to a robust response from Shanmuggam and/or Khaw Boon Wan; the kind they give if the offence had ocurred in the opposition ward. Or will everyone act blur?

SOMETHING is rotten in the estate of Ang Mo Kio.

A general manager and secretary of the neighbourhood’s town council has been put on forced leave and is now under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Mr Victor Wong works for CPG Facilities Management, the managing agent of the town council, which is helmed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. No details were given of the case, but the town council’s chairman Ang Hin Kee told The Straits Times (ST) yesterday (Dec 29) that a complaint was made against Mr Wong in September. Mr Wong was removed from his duties last month.

As to nature of the complaint, Mr Ang, who is also a Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said it had to do with “the way he handles contracts and dealings in the town council”, reported ST.

The complaint “arose out of his dealings which relates to probable behaviour needing investigation done by CPIB”, he said. “Needless to say, the town council ourselves will render all assistance needed to ensure zero tolerance for corruption.”

“We will render all assistance needed to ensure zero tolerance for corruption.”
What exactly are we talking about here?

Clues from Mr Ang’s brief interview with ST point to contracts being handled by Mr Wong and potential conflicts of interests which were possibly undeclared.

Mr Ang declined to give any more details of the investigation, but said that town council staff are constantly reminded to declare any interests concerning tenders being awarded by the council, said ST.

He also said that staff from the managing agent were also reminded that “if there are declarations to be made, if there are interests to declare, the people involved (must) make those declarations”.

Meanwhile, an acting general manager, Mr Lim Kian Chiong, has been asked to replace Mr Wong, who could not be reached for comment yesterday. Mr Lim is also an employee of CPG.

Read more from the source:

Why Singapore is Behind Finland in Basic Income Implementation

Finland just rolled out a pilot program to test universal basic income, or UBI. And while the idea of regular cash handouts may sound tantalizing, out-of-work Singaporeans shouldn't hold their breath.

The Scandinavian country announced yesterday that 2,000 randomly selected, unemployed individuals between the ages 25 and 58 will receive a monthly cash payment of 560 euros ($582.90) for two years.

The payments will continue even if the recipient finds work. The goal, according to the Finnish government, is to increase employment.

Singapore as a whole is well behind Finland in implementing any kind of guaranteed income.

"Finland is ahead of the Singapore in lot of progressive ideas," says Karl Widerquist, the founder of Basic Income News and an associate professor at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, in an email with CNBC.

"Finland already has universal health care. The next step is a universal right to a basic income. With Finland's more progressive politics, it's not surprising they're ahead of the Singapore in the movement for basic income," says Widerquist.

Taxes are higher in Finland, too, which makes it more feasible for the government to pay its citizens, Martin Ford, author of The New York Times-bestselling novel "Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future," tells CNBC. "They have the means to pay for a basic income by converting existing programs," he says.

If robots take your job, the government might have to pay you to live
Although unemployment benefits in Finland are generous, the way they're currently structured can, perversely, keep job-seekers from taking new positions.

"Many workers in Finland who used to have good jobs with Nokia, for example, are now unemployed. Lots of these people have skills and could try to start businesses or maybe work for another small business at lower pay. But the traditional unemployment program doesn't allow this. If they earn any money, they lose all their benefits," says Ford.

"So a basic income is a way to structure the safety net so that unemployed workers have an incentive to work to the extent they can, without the fear of losing their benefits."

-Misha Chellam, signatory of the Economic Security Project
Also, while there are about 5.5 million people living in Finland, there are more than 5.5 million in Singapore. Diversity in the Singapore makes it harder for some Singaporeans to feel compassion for each other, suggests writer Misha Chellam, founder of the start-up training company Tradecraft. Chellam is also a signatory of the Economic Security Project, a newly founded research organization dedicated to learning more about the implications of UBI.

"It may be an empathy gap," says Chellam.

"Finland is a small, homogeneous country with less than six million people. This may make Finns more empathetic toward fellow Finns' struggles, as they share many cultural similarities. The sense of 'Singlishness' can be a bit harder to pin down in a nation of almost 6 million people hailing from all parts of the world."

 Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla said, Robots will take your jobs, government will have to pay your wage
The Singapore will only adopt UBI if automation results in mass unemployment, Ford believes.

"I don't expect it to happen smoothly. I expect that, especially here in Singapore, it's going to happen when we have a crisis. We will have a big problem first," he says.

Despite cultural resistance, Widerquist insists that cash handouts are a viable idea even in Singapore.

"Basic income works everywhere. We can all realize it. We just have to give up the belief that the rich should have the right to tell the poor what to do," he says.