RETIREMENT ADEQUACY, AGEING ECONOMY
Mr Ong noted that there are segments in society who do not save enough in their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts.
To that end, Mr Ong said, without going into detail, the Ministry of Manpower will be looking at ways and means to improve retirement adequacy.
Beyond that, he said that Singapore will also need to adapt its economy, as an ageing population will have a prominent impact on the labour force.
To illustrate, he said that the growth rate of Singapore’s resident labour force has already slowed.
Between 2002 and 2012, it grew by 30 per cent, but in the next decade, it grew by only 15 per cent.
That said, Mr Ong pointed out that Singapore still managed to continue to grow the workforce, despite the onset of societal ageing in the past two decades.
This has happened for a few reasons, including allowing Singaporeans to stay economically active for longer by raising the retirement and reemployment ages, from 60 and 65 previously, to 63 and 68 today, he said.
By 2030, the retirement and reemployment ages will be raised to 65 and 70 respectively.
Mr Ong said raising the retirement and re-employment ages does not affect the retirement savings that people have built up in their CPF accounts.
“The main impact of raising these ages is that workers are protected from being dismissed due to their age by their employers,” said Mr Ong.
“Workers can choose to retire early if they want to. Hence raising this retirement age is an unmitigated good to workers.”
However, he said that employers must certainly do their part through job redesign and reskilling, and “learn to benefit from tapping the silver workforce”.
Aside from supporting seniors in the workplace, Mr Ong said there must be support for women to re-enter the workforce. Some initiatives that aim to do so include the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangements, which will be introduced by 2024.
REFORMING THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
Mr Ong also spoke about reforming Singapore’s healthcare system.
“So long as the population is young, the system can cope. But as life expectancy (rises), so (does) the disease burden. The old design starts to break down.”
Hence, he said beyond the Healthier SG initiative, the next major area of priority for his ministry is to build up community care, and to “get us all to do what is right for our health”, and to support ageing in communities.
“With community support, there are great opportunities for seniors to age healthily in communities. This is the next area where big changes need to take place,” said Mr Ong.