PAP MPs propose additional measures to assist seniors in Singapore during Budget 2024 debate


Members of Parliament from the People’s Action Party have proposed additional measures to better support seniors in Singapore even as they commended government efforts to boost retirement adequacy and other help for them.  

Several MPs highlighted the government’s move to close Central Provident Fund Special Accounts (SA) for those aged 55 and older, which would disrupt retirees’ plans. Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) said many Singaporeans rely on CPF savings as their key retirement fund. A possible policy move would be for the government to grandfather the SA accounts scheme for existing CPF members aged 55 and older, she suggested. 

Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang SMC) stressed that clearer communications to raise awareness of policy changes and targeted support are critical to help lower-income earners grow their retirement savings enough to meet the Basic Retirement Sum. 

Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) asked if the government would reconsider how the Ordinary Account interest rate is determined. He proposed to include some of the qualifying full banks in addition to the three major local banks currently referenced or consider the promotional interest rates offered by banks instead of just the board rates.    

Ms Foo noted the changes to the Enhanced Retirement Sum, slated to reach $426,000 by 2025, and four times the Basic Retirement Sum, represents a significant step toward closing the retirement adequacy gap. She has been advocating for the amount to be increased which will  enable CPF life to better meet the retirement needs of middle-income Singaporeans, especially those relying on CPF as their primary source for retirement planning. 

To provide lower-income seniors with greater financial security in retirement, Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) proposed to extend the Silver Support Scheme to cover elderly persons who had low incomes during their working lives but live with their lower- and middle-income families. She believed such support would help alleviate the burden on the “sandwiched generation.” 

Scaling programmes to help seniors age well

To support seniors aging well, Henry Kwek, Vice Chair of the PAP Seniors Group, said the government could quickly scale up Age Well SG’s home caregiving sandbox programme. 
He said, “I hope the government can not only provide more foreign manpower quotas but also set aside spaces in HDB estates for professional caregivers to operate comfortably and quickly respond to seniors’ needs without incurring high costs. Once we prove the model works, let’s roll it out nationwide quickly.” 

As Singapore develops more active ageing centres, Mr Kwek hoped the government would fund senior related services at trusted community nodes where seniors gather. These include mosques, churches, and temples. 

The national ecosystem of senior services, he noted, should also serve seniors living in private estates well. He explained that these seniors need caregiving and emotional support, though they are financially better off, and “provide an early look at the needs of most Singaporean seniors.” 

On helping seniors who wish to continue working, Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) urged the government to provide more job search help and matching, especially for those who have been retrenched, and incentives for employers to offer jobs to seniors. He also asked about the success rate of retrenched workers aged 50 and above in finding employment within six months. 

Helping seniors cope with rising cost of living 

On helping seniors to cope with rising cost of living, Mr Yip stressed the need for a fairer property tax system that considers the circumstances of residents, especially owner-occupied homes. He called for more help for retirees with no income who stay in their own homes.  

“Many retirees are asset-rich, cash-poor…What the Government is doing now is essentially asking retirees staying in their own home who cannot pay their property tax to sell away their house and uproot from the environment that they are familiar with. This will put stress on our seniors and affect their mental health. It might even cause dementia to set in earlier,” he added. 

To help seniors age well, Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC) proposed that the Government integrate medical and social services within their service boundaries. This would result in a seamless integrated social-health system. For instance, providing Singaporeans with greater access to community senior and mental health services in their own neighbourhoods. 

“This synergy would exponentially improve the community social-health integration and overall strengthen our national heart-ware resilience,” she said.