Parliamentary speech by Mr Seng Han Thong on President's opening address
20 October 2011
CPF and the Self Employed
Many of the matured workers are also self-employed. Though the CPF scheme has worked well with the employer and employee relationship, there is a big group of people – the self-employed persons who are not so well covered by the CPF scheme.
The challenge remains: How can we get the self-employed persons to include the cost of building up their social safety net in a sustainable way so that they will have a safety net when they grow old or get sick.
Last year, NTUC, together with MOM and the taxi companies have pioneered the "Drive and Save scheme" for the taxi drivers who are self-employed persons. This is a tripartite effort and I must thank Minister Gan Kim Yong for his strong support of this concept when he was the MOM Minister. It is a voluntary scheme. We want the taxi drivers to have their social safety net when they grow old or sick. The idea behind the scheme is to get both the drivers and the taxi companies to regularly contribute to the drivers' CPF Medisave account. We have championed that the cost of taxi drivers' social safety net should be included in the price of taxi service provided by the taxi companies, just like other modes of public transport such as bus and rail.
Similar concepts or principles should be adopted to create a national CPF framework for all self-employed persons in Singapore. We should act now and address the potential social problems of an inadequate social safety net for self-employed persons.
Currently, the self-employed persons--according to MOH--there are about 137,000 self-employed Singaporeans who have trade net income below $ 6000 who are not mandated to contribute to their Medisave which can be used to pay for medical insurance to cover for their medical expenses should they fall ill.
This big group of self-employed persons are also inadequately insured against unfortunate events such as death, permanent disability, critical or chronic illnesses. Unlike employees, when such unfortunate things happen to a self-employed person, his or her whole family will fall into financial difficulty and experience great distress because he does not enjoy paid leave for medical or hospitalization and cost of medical treatment.
Just like the CPF dependant insurance scheme, we should set up an automatic opt-in basic life insurance scheme which can be paid by the CPF savings. This will further strengthen the social safety net of the inadequately insured self-employed persons, or for that matter all Singapore citizens under the CPF scheme.
When we can put our CPF savings to benefit all Singaporeans, it will also make it a stronger case for Government to give more generous CPF top-up during the years with surpluses.