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Assurance in retirement tops National Day Rally discussions on REACH

Members of the public gave the thumbs up for the extension of the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme, the Silver Support Scheme and the announcement that Singaporeans can withdraw a lump sum from their CPF savings, subject to limits once they hit 65.

SINGAPORE: Assurance in retirement was the most discussed topic on REACH platforms since the start of a feedback exercise on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally on August 17. 

A news release from Government feedback portal REACH on Thursday (Aug 21) said about 37 per cent of 530 feedback inputs touched on this theme. Many gave feedback on the HDB's Lease Buyback Scheme, the option for the elderly to take part of their CPF savings in a lump sum, subject to limits, and the Silver Support Scheme.

Achieving one's potential was the next most discussed topic (20 per cent) followed by the topic of a "home for all ages" (19 per cent).

Many felt that the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme would provide a welcome additional monetization option to more elderly, but a handful of them said they would still prefer to leave their house as inheritance for their family. Some even suggested that the scheme be extended to all public housing to benefit more Singaporeans.

The Silver Support Scheme, which provides low-income elderly with an annual bonus, was also welcomed by many as a "good way to help those in need, while balancing personal responsibility and avoiding the ills of a welfare state", said REACH. But some suggested there should extensive communication of the scheme to give greater assurance to the elderly.

Contributors also gave a nod of approval for Prime Minister Lee's announcement that the Government is allowing Singaporeans the option of withdrawing a lump sum - subject to limits - from their CPF, once they reach 65. However, there was recognition that there should be safeguards to prevent over-withdrawal and depletion of CPF funds, and for individuals to take personal responsibility for managing their retirement funds, said REACH. To this end, some contributors called for greater public outreach efforts to improve financial literacy among the elderly.

Summing up the feedback so far, REACH Chairman Dr Amy Khor said: "Singaporeans have largely responded positively to the NDR saying that it was an uplifting, heart-warming and caring message, which
resonated with different segments of the population. They appreciated PM taking pains to explain the mechanics and rationale of the CPF scheme and Minimum Sum to them as well as PM paying tribute to the work and contributions of our Pioneer Generation."

REACH also held a Facebook chat on the National Day Rally on Thursday evening. While participants welcomed the shift away from paper qualifications, and a greater focus on skills and capabilities of individuals, some remained skeptical about whether this could be achieved.

"One of the suggestions is that the Government must walk the talk, take the lead, change its HR policies to show that promotion for instance, advancements in career will be performance-based and merit-based. I think the public service already has in place a merit-based career progression pathway and promotions but, as PM said, we can do more," said Dr Khor, after the chat.

REACH will continue its feedback exercise on the rally with outreach events such as a public forum with Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin on Aug 28.