PROF. MICHAEL SHERRADEN: CPF AN INNOVATIVE TOOL TO BUILD ASSETS

SINGAPORE’S Central Provident Fund (CPF) model is a “highly innovative” system which helps its people build assets, one of the world’s top social development experts said yesterday.

This is evident in how CPF provides security in retirement and can be used for health care, education, insurance, investments and home ownership, Professor Michael Sherraden told his 150-strong audience in a talk at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

He is the first scholar under the S R Nathan Professorship in Social Work, a collaboration between NUS and Washington University (St Louis), where he is from.

“Some households (here) may be highly stressed because they don’t have much income, but many have a flat… which provides a measure of stability in their lives that would not exist otherwise,” said the professor, who was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010.

In 1992, he spent one year here studying the CPF, the compulsory savings scheme which was launched in 1955.

He also lauded Singapore’s heavy investment in savings accounts for children, which start from birth and are matched by the Government dollar for dollar.

However, counsellor Theodora Clara Hutabarat says social policies can be better publicised.

“It’s complicated for some people. They don’t understand, so we social workers have to explain (it) to them.”

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