Ministerial committees for years on workers, healthcare & retirement?

Stethoscope

We refer to the article “No mystery to setting up of ministerial committee on Oxley Road house: Tharman” (Straits Times, Jun 22).

It states that “Some Ministerial committees may sit for just a few months, because the problems can be sorted out quickly. But there are also committees that have to stay engaged for years – sometimes with new Ministers coming in – such as on foreign worker policies, and funding healthcare and retirement needs.”

So, despite having “(ministerial) committees that have to stay engaged for years … on foreign worker policies, and funding healthcare and retirement needs” – we still have the following dismal outcomes, which may arguably be described as tragic, from the perspective of ordinary Singaporeans, in respect of foreign (and Singaporean) workers, healthcare and retirement.

Singaporean workers:

Singapore has no minimum wage, and there are people working for as little as around S$5 an hour.

Singapore has on a relative basis among developed countries – probably the highest percentage of low income workers (about 8% – 172,900 resident workers earn below $1,000; about 19% – 407,400 resident workers earn below $1,500).

Singapore has one of the highest poverty rates in the world, as measured by the percentage of workers earning less than half of the median income – about a fifth of the total Singapore workforce.

In the two years from January 2015 to December 2016 – employment growth was 11,400 for locals (citizens unknown?) and 37,300 for foreigners, but Singapore granted an estimated 60,000 new PRs and 40,000 new citizens (the majority of which are working) in the same two-year period.

There was job growth of 390,300 local jobs from 2007 to 2015, against an increase of 534,600 foreign jobs.

550,000 new citizens/PRs?

If the total number of new citizens and PRs granted in 2015 was about the same as the  50,202 (20,348 new citizens + 29,854 new PRs) figure in 2014 – how many of the 390,300 local jobs actually went to Singaporeans, against the 552,136 (estimated) new citizens and new PRs granted (the majority of which are working)? (Note: there is some double counting as some of the new citizens were converted from new and old PRs. Without the data on PRs and new citizens who leave Singapore eventually and on a yearly basis, after being granted residency status – it is very difficult to estimate the double counting. Only the disclosure of these statistics can provide clarity and transparency to these figures).

Healthcare:

Are Singaporeans paying the highest proportion of their income for healthcare in the world? 

At the current maximum Medisave contribution rate of up to 10.5 per cent (plus private cash spending on healthcare) – does it mean that from a cashflow perspective – Singaporeans may be paying one of the highest proportion of their income for healthcare in the world?

Public healthcare spending + Medisave top-ups + withdrawals = $13.2b?

We estimate that the total public healthcare spending, Medisave top-ups and total withdrawals from Medisave, was about $13.2 billion ($9.8 public spending + $3.4 billion (others))?

Medisave contributions + annual % on Medisave accounts’ balances = $13.3b?

We estimate that the annual Medisave contributions plus the annual interest on Medisave accounts’ balances to be about at least $13.3 billion.

Cashflow perspective – Govt may not be spending a single cent on healthcare?

So, from a cashflow perspective – does it mean that the Government may still not be spending a single cent on healthcare. if annual inflows exceed outflows ($13.3 billion – $13.2 billion)?.

Retirement:

Greater transparency and fair return of CPF?

What is the difference historically between the weighted average interest rate paid on all our CPF account types (OA, SA, Medisave, RA), and the historical annualised return derived from investing CPF funds?

Why is the real CPF percentage lowest in the world since 1999?

Is the real rate of interest on the CPF Ordinary Account (OA) the lowest among all national pension funds in the world since 1999?

Real percentage was 0.5% from 2001 to 2015?

Since inflation from 2001 to 2015 was about 2 per cent per annum (CPI 2015 99.461 divided by 2001 75.568) – does it mean that the real annualised rate of return on our CPF Ordinary Account was only about 0.5 per cent (2.5 – 2.0) per annum?

Cumulative returns from investing our CPF vs percentage to CPF members?

What is the cumulative difference between the annualised rate of return derived from investing our CPF funds since 1961 (when CPF started) to today, and the annualised rate given to CPF members?

In absolute numbers on a cumulative basis with interest – how much money are we talking about over the last 55 years?

No transparency and accountability?

Are we the only developing or developed country in the world that is arguably non-transparent, as there is no disclosure on the rate of return derived from our pension funds relative to the weighted average interest rate paid on all our CPF accounts (Ordinary, Special, Medisave and Retirement accounts)?

Ten Leu-Jiun and Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong
Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.