CPF: Contributions exceed withdrawals by 138%?

I refer to the article “How Infamous Short-Seller Carson Block Can Take On The Singaporean Government And Win” (BusinessInsider, Dec 22).

According to the Department of Statistics’ Yearbook of Statistics Finance 2012, in 2007, 204,808 CPF members who reached 55 years of age, withdrew $2.4 billion.

More people withdrew less at 55?

In 2011, the number who reached 55 was higher at 227,540, but withdrew a lower amount of $1.94 billion.

So, why is it that about 11 per cent more CPF members withdrew about 19 per cent less in 2011, compared to 2007?

This may be indicative of a trend of CPF members withdrawing lesser amounts when they reach 55.

Could this be due to the increasing CPF Minimum Sum and Medisave Required Amount, which are now at $139,000 and $38,500, respectively?

Contributions more than withdrawals by 138%?

The amount of CPF contributions in 2001 was $18.3 billion against withdrawals of $18.9 billion.

By 2011, the situation had reversed, with CPF contributions increasing to $24.7 billion against withdrawals of just $10.4 billion.

This means that whilst withdrawals exceeded contributions in a year, in 2001 – by 2011, contributions were about 138 per cent more than withdrawals.

42 cents out of every $ withdrawn?

In other words, for every dollar of CPF contributions in 2011, only about 42 cents were withdrawn.

What this trend may mean is that Singaporeans may be contributing more and more to CPF relative to withdrawals, such that total CPF liabilities may continue to grow perpetually.

CPF due to members grew 125%?

In this regard, CPF Due to Members has grown by about 125 per cent, from $92.2 billion in 2001 to $207.5 billion in 2011.

Bank mortgage loans now exceed HDB loans?

It is also interesting to note that whilst HDB mortgage loans of $59.3 billion was more than Financial Institutions’ mortgage loans of $43.1 billion in 2,000 – by 2010, the situation had reversed, with Financial Institutions’ mortgage loans increasing to $158.5 billion – much more than HDB mortgage loans of $43 billion.

So, Financial Institutions’ mortgage loans increased by 268 per cent against a drop of 27 per cent for HDB mortgage loans, on a relative basis.

Notwithstanding the increase in private property to HDB flats’ loans in recent years, to what extent has the above been due to the recent more stringent requirements to qualify for a HDB loan?

And of course, the trend has been more HDB bank loans to HDB loans, on a relative basis in recent years.

No HDB bank loans’ statistics?

In this connection, the HDB has said that it does not have statistics on HDB bank loans in arrears over three months and foreclosure statistics.

So, how many HDB flats have been foreclosed by banks since they started offering HDB bank loans from 1 January 2003, and how many have been in arrears?

Credit cards’ rollovers grew by 67%?

In my article “Singaporeans mired in debt? – 65,804 loan sharking cases last 4.5 years” (Dec 23), I talked about the credit cards’ statistics for the last year or so.

Now, let us look at the credit cards’ statistics for the last five years or so.

Credit / Charge Cards’ Rollover Balance grew by 67 per cent from $3.0 billion in 2007 to $5 billion in 2012, “the average monthly rollover on credit card balances per consumer has increased by 54 per cent to $5,034 in 2012 from $3,275 in 2002” and “the number of principal cards issued jumped by almost 1 million in the past one year to 7.7 cards for about 1.45 million individuals” (“Credit card debtors get help” New Paper, Dec 24)

Bad Debts Written Off grew by 62 per cent from $109 million to $176 million, from 2007 to 2011.

Any connection between credit card debt and … ?

Is there any connection between relatively lower CPF withdrawals at 55 and more HDB bank loans, to credit card debt statistics?

Could it be that relatively lower CPF withdrawals may lead to cash-flow problems for some Singaporeans, which may result in more credit card debt?

Similarly, could more HDB bank loans which generally are less helpful when one is unable to pay, contribute to more credit card debt? In this respect, for HDB loans one can seek assistance and extensions from the HDB as well as their Members of Parliament ( MPs).

And of course, in the last 12 years or so, the near negative real median basic wage growth for almost all workers may have contributed to the credit card debt statistics as well. (“Workers’ rights: 12 years of near negative wage growth for almost all workers?”, Dec 9)

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the 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), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.