20150723 CPF – PAP government invests for foreigners, pays them guaranteed returns from our reserves

There appears to be a huge discrepancy between the number of Singapore residents (citizens and PRs) and the total number of CPF members. I have engaged the CPF Board which does not seem to have an answer or it may have preferred not to disclose the statistics. (link to correspondence with CPF Board)

As at Dec 2014, there were 3.59 million CPF members but our total resident population was only 3.873 million in June last year. Even if our the number of CPF members was marginally lower in June, it should be, give or take, 3.55 million. This means an extremely high rate of 91.6% (3.55 million divide by 3.873 million) of the resident population are CPF members.

But most children under the age of 21 do not have a CPF account. (My 3 children aged 15 to 20 do not have one) I concluded the CPF Board must be maintaining the CPF accounts of a large number of foreigners and paying them ‘preferential’ CPF interest rates which are supposed to be enjoyed by residents.

CPF statistics confirm there were 3.59 million CPF members in 2014

Although CPF Board has informed me about the introduction of ‘Medisave Grant for Newborns’ in 2012, the figures still don’t tally.

My initial estimate was there were about 240,000 foreigner CPF accounts based on a different assumption. In order to confirm, I requested for a breakdown of CPF membership by citizenship which CPF Board said it did not collate such data. This is not possible because we are talking about additional billions of CPF dollars in our reserves  managed by GIC. Any government which claims it does not such data is clearly planning to fail. Is PAP planning to?

Based on the assumption that a majority of residents up to 21 years old instead of 15 years old earlier, there could be about 775,000 CPF accounts held by foreigners (see table below). CPF Board has also confirmed the “CPF membership count may also include foreigners who have contributed to CPF before 2003”.

Estimated number of CPF members

. Citizens PRs Total
Total population 3,343,000 530,000 3,873,000
Est. % with CPF accounts ** 80% 80% 80%
Est. number of CPF members 2,674,400 424,000 3,098,400

** Assumption – most citizens below 21 do not have a CPF account. Age profile of citizens and PRs similar.

The huge discrepancy begs the following questions:
– Why did CPF Board not terminate accounts held by foreigners?
– Has CPF Board terminated the accounts of PRs who have gone back for good?
– Why does CPF Board continue to use public resources to invest for foreigners?
– Why does CPF Board continue to pay foreigners the same CPF rate as citizens?
– How much has been retained by CPF Board after the death of a foreign member and does it even keep track?
etc.

Unnecessary complications have arisen because CPF Board should have terminated their accounts instead of allowing GIC access to the funds. Is this productivity in the civil service?

In July 2014, DPM Tharman revealed that “In eight out of 20 years, GIC’s returns were lower than the rate promised to CPF members, but the Government absorbed the losses.” The PAP had therefore raided our reserves to top up the CPF rate to pay not only citizens but foreigners. Why were the president and parliament not informed?

When Tharman said the government “absorbed the losses”, he must have meant our reserves were used to pay CPF interest rates, in part or the full amount, to foreigners. Is this prudent spending or is it even right?

Why does PAP guarantee the investment returns of foreigners at Singaporeans’ expense?

I hope the CPF Board will clarify this issue.

Conclusion

CPF Board appears to be managing almost 800,000 accounts of foreigners. These accounts should have rightly been terminated. Is GIC in desperate need for funds?

During the 8 years which GIC’s returns were lower than the amount CPF members were paid, our reserves were used to pay foreigners. This amounted to “losses” absorbed by the government ie, ultimately paid by Singaporens.

MOF should have informed parliament and the president that our reserves were raided 8 times but did not.

It is not the function of any statutory board such as CPF Board to manage foreigners’ funds.

CPF Board should be transparent with Singaporeans and provide the membership breakdown by citizenship. Or does it have something to hide?

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10 Responses to 20150723 CPF – PAP government invests for foreigners, pays them guaranteed returns from our reserves

  1. wongcheokwan says:

    Great article. Cpf member=3.59mil. Active a/c=1.95mil. Inactive a/c=1.64mil ,EXTREMELY high.

    Deduct Cpf assets from 1)pr holdings, 2) foreigner holdings 3) orphan/unclaimed money you will find

    Singaporeans are a lot poorer for retirement than previously thought.

  2. wongcheokwan says:

    The last sentence should read:

    From Cpf assets deduct 1)pr holdings,2) foreigner holdings 3) orphaned/unclaimed money you will

    find Singaporeans are a lot poorer for retirement than previously thought.

    Sorry for wrong expression.

  3. Silas says:

    Singaporean like you don’t really know and appreciate how good PAP govt has treated you well all these years!!! Foreigners like west Malaysian are not allowed to withdraw their CPF money until they are 50 years old even if they have left Singapore for good for many many years! Their CPF money will be used by CPF to give cheap loan to Singaporean to buy subsidised HDB flats!!! As you mentioned, 8 years out of 20 years, the govt. used the reserves to top up the CPF interest, how about the balance 12 years when GLC made tons of money? The money goes to reserves!!! When the reserves are high and strong, the Singapore Dollar becomes strong! When the Singapore Dollar becomes strong, you said “chip chip” whenever you do shopping overseas!!!

    • phillip ang says:

      Your view of a Singaporean is that of a shallow human being whose only preoccupation is shopping.
      Look at the flip side of Singaporeans who received the cheap loans to buy housing – CPF members with excess balance do not have enough to retire.
      Any fund manager who loses 40% of the time would have closed shop but GIC has access to unlimited supply of funds from taxpayers and that is the only reason it has survived so long.
      Would appreciate if you could direct me to your “GIC made tons of money” source of information. Thanks.

  4. Silas says:

    Except those who are renting from the HDB, those who bought HDB flats and paid up by the time they retired are expected to sell their flats and use the money for retirement! It may sound “cruel”, but I believe this is the PAP policy, not to let its citizens to rest under their laurels when they are still considered able to work. Don’t think of passing down the paid up flat to the next generation! I think Singaporeans that are not so well off are expected to retire overseas in other Asean countries e.g. Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia etc, where they can live a very comfortable life e.g. JB with the CPF money plus the HDB flat sold! Especially with high exchange rate!

    • phillip ang says:

      Not all Singaporeans are like you, willing to be controlled by a handful of elites. Perhaps you are not aware that you hold the power to change.
      In your links to GIC website, I would suggest you analyse whatever you read.

  5. Silas says:

    Time to consider retiring in one of these countries. Thailand, Malaysia and Philippine are top of the list!!!

    http://sv5.lolwot.com/top-20-best-countries-to-retire-abroad/?utm_source=outbrain.agd&utm_medium=referral

  6. wongcheokwan says:

    One thing I learned is: Never argue with a person under bumiputra policy.

    In his calculation GIC MADE TONS OF MONEY (although my share is ZERO).

    Sing$ 2.5 % interest is better than Ringgit 5.5 % interest because of the exchange rate.

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