Monday, February 20, 2012

Is Our CPF Broke?

I wrote recently, "No Hair but Got Heart" [Link]. Without going through the details of the schemes, I complimented Tharman Shamugaratnam for his concern and kindness for the poor, the disabled and the old after his 2012 Budget speech.

Now I'm having second thoughts. I may have been wrong. Is his heart where it is supposed to be?

While going through the details provided by Leong Sze Hian of TOC, I realised that I may have been suckered and conned . . . hook, line and sinker!

From Leong Sze Hian in italic:
A Silver Housing Bonus of $20,000 will be introduced whereby, the "Government will provide $15,000 in cash and $5,000 to the CPF accounts. To benefit from the scheme, the homeowners will use the proceeds from the sale of their previous home to top up their CPF savings up to the prevailing Minimum Sum. All amounts above the Minimum Sum can be withdrawn in cash", and the Government expects many to be able to do so.
The Finance Minister in unveiling Budget 2012, goes on to say, "Suppose we have a retiree couple who each had $10,000 set aside in their Retirement Accounts when they turned 55. They decide to move from a 3-room flat to a Studio Apartment. That gives them net proceeds of $250,000. The proceeds will go into their CPF LIFE. But because they will now exceed the Minimum Sum, they take out $8,000 in cash. Together with the $15,000 cash from the Silver Housing Bonus, they get $23,000 in total. Most important, they also get a much bigger income for life from CPF LIFE – an additional $1,200 per month." [Link]

From the above, I cannot help but think that Tharman's objective may be more than helping the poor 55-year-old couple! Pardon my being slow in mathematics but this is what I understand from the "Silver Housing Bonus":

  1. A retiree couple sells their 3 room flat, buys a studio apartment and is richer by $250,000
  2. However, CPF Minimum Sum "forfeits" $242,000 from the sales proceeds of $250,000
  3. The couple ends up with a cash balance of $8000 and is entitled to a "Silver Housing Bonus" of $15,000 cash. Total of $23,000 cash in hand.
  4. $242,000 will not be paid to them until they are 65, in drips and drabs, through CPF Life, instead of one lump sum.
Imagine, someone coming to offer you $23,000 with the evil intention to fleece you off $242,000! Damned! Not unlike the "Get Rich Quick" scams you hear so often!

Just who benefits from this 'Silver Housing Bonus' transaction? In one fell swoop, CPF gets a windfall of $242,000!  (For Temasek and/or GIC to mess with?)

While Bernard Madoff preyed on the rich in his Ponzi scheme, it is a disgrace for CPF to prey on the relatively poor and old of Singapore. 

I am concerned. So should all Singaporeans. Is Our CPF Broke? If there is enough money to pay out to CPF members, why are there so many fanciful schemes to delay payment and disgraceful ways to add on to the Fund?
  • Why from full payback with interest at age 55 to the current Shameful Schemes?
  • Why from No Minimum Sum to $80,000 in 2003 to $131,000 Minimum Sum in 2012?
  • Why from "don't know how much" to the $36,000 Medisave Account today?
  • Why must a mandatory Admin Fee be paid to CPF to use your Medisave if you are sick?

I cannot blame those who are comfortably off to be not too concerned about the CPF. In fact, the 2.5% interest they get is better than what they get from the bank. However, for those old folks with no spare cash and living from hand to mouth, the delay in getting one's hard earned CPF can lead to depression and suicide. It is a joke that Singapore pays us only 2.5% on our CPF while our Malaysian neighbours get 6% interest per annum! [Link]

'What I don't have, I can't give!' (Stephen Covey?) If I do not have enough to barely survive for today, just how the fook am I going to give. Especially to CPF! 

And I thought Tharman got heart!

Regardless of age, we live, we learn.



At February 21, 2012 at 1:03 AM , Blogger Gintai_昇泰 said...

Datuk Fish,
My comments on Redbean's blog.
"Gintai_昇泰 said...
I'm coming to 49 yrs. By the time I reach 55 yrs in 6 yrs assuming I can live till 55 yrs, the min sum will be ard $150K definitely more than the current $131K. But my pay still remains the same. It nvr changed for so many yrs. whereas the min sum keep increasing!

How many ppl when reach 55 yrs will have CPF of more than $150K? This doesn't include the around $40 to $50K of medisave by then. In other words almost all Singaporeans will not be able to collect hard currency from their own COF account when they reach 55 yrs. Unless you choose to migrate by giving up your citizenship then you can cash out all your hard earned CPF. If you want to live and retire in Sg no way to collect your CPF money. It will be locked up forever. You only get to see the annual stmt of your paper value.

Is it right and proper? By using laws to keep changing the min sum and medisave to ever higher levels when our pay is stagnant so to deprive us of our own hard earned money - Is it morally acceptable? Is it justifiable? You know so many of us are so bitter about this. This bitterness will lead to more hatred! Really langgar!"

They will think of ways and means to lock up our CPF! They will not let us cash out our hard earned own money. We work all our life only to get drips and draps! Do not trust this govt. Many have seen thru those evil s schemes! Do not be misled.

At February 21, 2012 at 9:32 AM , Blogger Chua Chin Leng蔡镇龍 aka redbean said...

When one is so evil that one doesn't even know, or still thinks that one is an angel.

When such a state is reached, it is the time for the durian to drop.

At February 21, 2012 at 9:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought minimum medisave amount change to 41k for the latest change?

At February 21, 2012 at 11:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When CPF contribution was cut for those aged 50 and above, only employers’ contribution was reduced. Now when government wants to restore back the CPF contribution, rightfully they should just raise employers’ contribution and not employees’ contribution. What is the use of more CPF contribution when you have less take-home pay?

At February 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without clear accounts and transparency there is no way for any one of us to know if the CPF scheme has turn into a big Ponzi scheme. It will need large infusion of new money to stay afloat. Wonder who is really benefiting from this large pool of money called CPF? I cannot be sure decided to withdraw whatever I can and suffer lower interest rates in bank. Decide not to sign for CPF Life. Lose it all if you decide to migrate. How can I be so sure that this place will still be the future for me. For the poor old folks who sign up to the scheme there is another danger. Hope our world does not come to this. But it would perversely be an incentive to encourage early death instead of trying to save their life in some situations.

At February 21, 2012 at 12:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I said a BIG-hole-in-the-heart plan.
Everything is tied to CPF - no hard cash.
They still don't get it..
Never mind..2016 is the year to boot half of them out of the parliament or you'll never see any living daylights. Let them erode whatever goodwill there is.

At February 21, 2012 at 4:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Suddenly, the Party Against People is talking about a more "inclusive" budget.

All credit to the wise voters and the Opposition Parties for solidarity & perseverance in GE 2011.

Let us continue to help poor & needy Singaporeans in GE 2016.

GE 2016 - Let's make this the year we get back all our CPF money.

Let's make the battle lines very clear.
Give us back all our CPF money or we vote you out.

Vote Opposition;
For a more transparent, accountable and caring government.

At February 21, 2012 at 5:18 PM , Anonymous Paul said...

It gets worse! Check this out:

At February 21, 2012 at 10:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evil indeed.

Why did they removed
Medishield Coverage
for those over 80 in
age when these folks
need it most?


At February 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way from time to time there were praises and accolades for the living leaders and mostly to those who had just passed on.
Me had been wondering about it and have yet to find any good reason for such a phenomena. Most of those cited for praise and eulogy were part of the Regime for decades. They helped much in formulating policies that led to the present state of affair.

Why are people forgetting about their culpability and contribution to our present situation???


At February 22, 2012 at 2:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It shows how whims the policies were implemented. Looking back at the past decades, PAP were doing merry-go-round with the people. Ministers salary gone up than down again than next time up. CPF contribution gone up, than down, than up like see-saw. Mandarin campaign gone up, than down, than up, birth control also likewise. Immigration policies will be the same and many others. If Singaporeans are not getting dizzy with all these tossing of prata in front of us, than certainly the whiter than white look nauseous for taste.

Taking PAP's words, is like some cheat selling gold plated metal and market it as 24K gold?

At February 22, 2012 at 10:45 AM , Anonymous Alan Wong said...

The best part of the scheme or scam, depending on how you look at it, must be the complete disregard for the welfare of any CPF member who happens to die before the age of 65.

This means any short-lived CPF member dying before 65 would not have the right to benefit from using his minimum sum in any way he deems fit, effectively as good as saying goodbye to the monies.

Remember in the first place, the right to use the monies belongs to the CPF member and should not be determined in any way by some Govt Minister's policy, without seeking the prior consent of the CPF member.

Fine if the CPF member agrees but if not, it is a clear-cut violation of the CPF's member's rights, isn't it ?

At February 22, 2012 at 11:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

THat is the issue - CPF members have no rights. We passed it all to the ruling party as they deem fit.

At February 22, 2012 at 1:01 PM , Blogger Kaffein said...

Uncle Fish,
Actually from the moving goalposts this decade, I am likely to think our CPF monies are locked away by GIC investments and loaned to TH.

Don't quote me. These are my thoughts. These days you can't share too much without having a lawyer's letter sent to you doorstep.


At February 22, 2012 at 10:05 PM , Blogger FeedMeToTheFish said...

Folks, help me out here. Teach me.

Just who decides on the 'ever-changing-to-the-detriment-of-CPF-members' policies.

1. Do the directors of CPF Board decide?
2. Are the changes passed in Parliament?
3. Or who?

All I know is that an announcement is made through mainstream media and we just suck our thumb and accept whatever they throw at us.

I have mentioned before that most CPF members do not feel the pinch yet. Those who have HDB mortgages are comfortable using CPF funds to pay. Even those at 55 and above with cash to spare are comfortable to have their money locked up with 2.5% interest.

The lot that suffers most are those 55 and above who can barely make ends meet and are deprived of using their minimum sum sitting pretty at CPF.

What gets my goat is their devious ways of siphoning money off the elderly with CPF LIfe and now the newfangled 'Silver Bonus Scheme'.

I've been accused of being paranoid when I think out loud that CPF may be broke. But with the never ending delay in payout and ever increasing Medisave, Minimum Sum Scheme, Special Account, Retirement Account and newly enforced Most-Do-Not-Understand-CPF-Life-Annuity, I just can't help thinking that something is just not right.

Dear Kaffein, even with the threats of defamation, we must speak up to protect what is ours. If not, we will be treated worse than 'dogs'.


At February 26, 2012 at 1:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not earning 2.5% interest in your CPF. Your real interest has been negatives for years/decades.

The longer they lock up your money, the less money you get back in return. What other country has a stated pension return of a mere 2.5%?

The "bonus" they give you to hold on to your money indefinitely is a scam. Madoff's scam is to pay you "above" market interest while reducing your principal to a big fat ZERO.

My advice to people with means is to migrate and take your CPF savings with you. Trust me, you will never look back and your offspring will be ever so grateful to you.


At March 7, 2012 at 2:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Fish,
I can see you have mis-under-stood the intension of this well intention government. The CPF is not broke. They are merely be proactive in heading off a case where old folks cash out and spend unwisely most of their hard earned money that was trapped in the flat. This move ensures they will always have what $1200 a month till they die and never have to be a burden to the future government or their children or child most likely.

At April 20, 2012 at 1:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of how CPF is setup (minimum sum, lockup, singaporeans die early at 80, blah blah), $15,000 cash from the Silver Housing Bonus is in every way a PLUS from the status quo.

Don't come dig out the same conspiracy theories over and over again whenever there are some slight changes to CPF.

At June 3, 2012 at 9:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. I will say that you do have the courage to highlight this. There is definitely secret out there.
The truth? It can no longer be differentiated. With the government saying they have the interest of ppl or they really have 'interest' in its own people's money?
The truth is dilluted.

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