Friday, May 30, 2014

公积金:影响深远的《侯永昌报告书》

公积金关系到人民一生的血汗钱,如果理还乱,自然说不断。每年调整公积金最低存款额那一刻,都会成为重点话题。

时光倒流三十年。

1984年对像我这样的打工仔是个好年头,配合着“第二次工业革命(新加坡版)”,新加坡的制造业急速转型,从劳工密集工业转型至技术密集工业,薪水大幅度调高。当时公积金缴交率提高至50%:雇主25%,雇员25%。虽然看得到(数目字)却摸不着(钞票),不过由于个人生计不受影响,又在有财有势的跨国公司(MNC)工作,所以能够以兴奋的心情向过去穷困的日子告别,迷恋着节节飙升的公积金存款。

当年根据政府的公积金养老大计,年轻的我已经开始规划55岁退休后的黄金年华。扣除预计的生活费之余,虽然所剩的是杯水车薪,当时还是想过像今天的盖茨那样,该将多少余款取之社会,用之社会。

19846月份是个不平静的时节,随着《侯永昌报告书(Howe’s report)》出炉,我开始醒悟到三十年后,当我也有父亲在1980年代的年纪的时候,未必真的能够快快乐乐地规划自己的退休生活,而必须接受我们的政府的一片美意,将一笔公积金存款交给政府,让政府来帮我规划老年。

虽然《侯永昌报告书》措辞优美,解读起来,其实是很现实的当头棒喝。简单地说,报告书预测到二三十年后的今天人口老化,像我这样的小人物,可能无法有效理财,甚至还会像当时一些政要的口碑那般,到半个小时海路外的峇淡岛包养二奶(现在称为小三),临老入花丛,花掉毕生的积蓄。

接下来的政策不惜一竹竿打翻整船人,公积金制度在《侯永昌报告书》的框架下,经历过数度调整。三十年后的今天,公积金存款不能一次过在55岁提出来,除了必须保留一笔有如三级跳的最低款额外,年金计划(CPF LIFE)的按月领取年龄也逐步提高,从62岁开始,提高到2018年的65岁。

这种强制性的最低存款背后是否另有内情并不在此文的讨论范围,反正钱币有两面,认为政府有远见的,自然会说三十年前政府已经通过时任卫生部长侯永昌为我们规划今天,甚至再活多三十年的生活,让我们有尊严地度过晚年;对我而言,公积金的回报率跟不上通膨的步伐是一大隐忧。

我这么说,是以人力部长陈川仁先生发表在《The manpower blog》的博文为依据。陈川仁指出,2003年的最低存款是$80,0002013年是$148,0002014年提高到$155,000

以长期数据来计算,2014年的最低存款比2003年的设定高出94%,每年平均增加了约6.3%(复式利率,compounded interest),也就是说新加坡的平均通膨率为6.3%。真的是这样吗?

我也相信陈川仁指出我们的公积金存款是安全的说法。根据公积金局网站公布的统计数字2013年的公积金收益约$280亿,总提款额则只有约一半,而且过去每年都有“盈余”。因此单从每年累积下来的收益,以目前分阶段归还给国人的模式确实是绰绰有余的。


(CPF的收入与支出。图片来源:公积金局网站 27 May 2014)

陈川仁解释,新加坡近年来的通膨率较高,而最低存款额跟新加坡的通膨率挂钩,所以大家才会看到必须保留在公积金户头的最低存款额大幅度增加。如果真是如此,公积金普通户头利率只有2.5%,特别与保健户头4%,远远低于平均每年以6.3%递增的最低存款,多年来全国平均工资亦无法追上此高水平。
In 2003, we wanted the Minimum Sum to be able to meet the expenditure needs of a lower-middle income retiree couple. This was why we decided in 2003 to bring the Minimum Sum from $80,000 then, to a target of $120,000 in 2003 dollars. The target was to be reached over a period of 10 years, so that by 2013, a lower-middle income retiree couple could have had their expenditure needs met.

Many have forgotten that this is what we decided to do many years ago and are surprised each year when the Minimum Sum is raised. 

In fact, we pushed back the target by another two years to 2015 so as to make the increases more gradual because of higher inflation in recent years. 

So remember: The current Minimum Sum for someone turning 55 from July 2014 is $155,000, after adjustment for inflation. This sum will provide about $1,200 per month, for life, through CPF LIFE…

Tan Chuan-Jin, 25 May 2014The manpower blog


若上述的解读成立的话,只能说明我们的货币贬值到了令人十分担忧的地步,无论是公积金局网站所提供的多种财务计算机(Financial Calculators)或是充斥市场的财务专家,相信都无法为我们提供日后合理的财务规划,只好移居到另一个桃花源。追究起数目字的落差,政府肯定有必要对国民作出合理的交代。

不过最无法接受的还是此争议性的政策背后最直面的假设性原则(assumed principle):我无法自己好好理财,必须通过政府强制的年金来照顾我的将来!不期然使我想起三十年前,杜进才针对《侯永昌报告书》所说过的一句话:“在公积金管理这个环节上,已经失去它的可信度。”(It is as simple as this, that the CPF has lost its credibility, the management of it.

2012年,当公积金再度成为公众焦点时,海峡时报采访了公积金局总执行官Yee Ping Yi,总结公积金局的解释,撇开政治语言,简而言之是过去三十余年的社会变迁,制造了大量的中产阶层,而公积金制度并没有很好地为这群人提供退休的保护网,跟早在1954年就已经推行的公积金制度的原意落差很大。公积金局的标语“Saving For Retirement”对许多普罗大众而言是个乌托邦。


The CPF scheme would run into problems if it sought to provide for the full retirement needs of everyone, rich or poor, the man in charge of running it has said. As it now stands, the Central Provident Fund scheme 'fully meets the retirement needs of the people who are below middle income', the fund's chief executive, Mr Yee Ping Yi, said in an interview with The Straits Times. That means the bottom 40 per cent of wage earners. It also 'substantially meets' the needs of middle-income earners, which means its retirement coverage extends to about 60 per cent of wage earners.

The Straits Times, 29 Mar 2012

今天国人所感受到的公积金压力是来自三十年前的“因”,三十年来累计下来的“果”是甜是苦,并不是陈川仁的功过。陈川仁只是身为时下的人力部长,在其位,谋其政,必须出面为多年来的政策辩护罢了。

30年前他们说了什么?


1984629日,国会针对《侯永昌报告书》进行的辩论,详情都记载在国会报告里(Singapore Parliament Reports29 Jun 1984)。


(侯永昌参与1979年波东巴西补选,踏入政坛,当时波东巴西还是个农村。图中站在菜农右手边的就是侯永昌。图片来源:Straits Times 1979)

时任卫生部长侯永昌先生(Mr Howe Yoon Chong解释报告书的内容,说:

政府有必要鼓励每个国人在年轻时就开始储蓄,为老年作好准备。委员会建议废除在55岁一次过领取所有的公积金的做法,以可持续性的年金来维持老年的开销。虽然委员会知道在现阶段,国人不可能接受这个观点,但在二三十年后,我们将会面对国人老化的问题,可能到时大家较能接受年金的概念。

委员会建议公积金会员的提款年龄从55岁提高的60岁,日后再提高到65岁。新加坡人必须未雨绸缪,为二三十年后作好准备。他们必须在现阶段为将来作出决定,即使有些决定是很痛苦的。现在有许多面临老年化的国家都无法解决此问题,除非我们肯在现阶段作出决定,否则政府和人民将来都会面对老年化的棘手问题,尤其是那些无法照顾自己的老人。

Individuals must be encouraged from young to save for old age. Instead of withdrawing the CPF balances in a lump sum at 55, the Committee suggests that there should be an option for retired persons to participate in arrangements which, after settling all outstanding payments, would provide an annuity to ensure a steady income throughout life. The Committee had all along been informed, however, that such an option would not be popular at this stage of Singapore's development. But since the problem of the ageing population would be threatening us in 20 to 30 years' time, perhaps by then such a measure would be more acceptable.

Mr Speaker, Sir, I now come to the most controversial recommendation. The recommendation "that the age at which CPF contributors be allowed to withdraw their savings should be deferred first to 60 and later to 65" has sparked off widespread criticisms and protests against the Report. The public's reactions and sentiments against this proposal were vehement. There was a general outcry. With one voice and in many tongues they made themselves heard loud and clear that they were definitely against what they regarded as an attempt to deprive them of the right to get their hands on their own money….

…Singaporeans must be prepared to face the wider issues now even though the problems may become acute in 20 to 30 years' time. They must anticipate these problems before it is too late. They will have to take decisions, some of which may be seemingly painful, to meet the difficulties ahead. Unless these difficult decisions are taken at this juncture, the Government and people of Singapore will have problems on their hands and the elderly, especially those less able to look after-themselves, may be in grave jeopardy. Already the overwhelming problems faced by countries with an ageing population are causing these countries grave concern and many of them are at a loss to find solutions.

《Singapore Parliament Reports》29 Jun 1984

继侯永昌发表演说后,林文兴第一个发言,他主要从工会的角度出发,并温和地提出一些建议。接下来出场的是杜进才,当时他已经从内阁转型为“反骨”的后座议员。


(2012年2月3日往生的杜进才。图片来源:Straits Times)

杜进才严词抨击侯永昌报告书,不赞成将公积金的提款年龄从55岁延迟至60甚至65岁,更遑论保留最低存款作为医疗保健用途。他认为医疗保健是政府的社会责任,政府不应该违背设立公积金的基本原则,把医疗的费用转嫁给国民。


杜进才说:公积金的基本原则已经被破坏了。公积金的基本原则就是:它是定期存款,也可视为借贷给政府,到了55岁的时候就可以赎回来。

如果我将这笔存款放在商业银行,到期的时候我去银行提款,银行经理说,对不起杜先生,你必须明年再来。这间银行将会出现挤提的后果。

道理就是这么简单,在公积金管理这个环节上,政府已经失去基本的信用。你可能还会对保健储蓄大感意外。他们说特别户口中的6%存款必须保留给保健储蓄,你不能提出来,即使你死了也不能提出来。

Mr Speaker, I think fundamental principles are being breached.

The fundamental principle is this.

The CPF is really a fixed deposit or a loan to Government which can be redeemed at a fixed date when the contributor is 55 years old.

If I were to put this sum of money in a commercial bank and, on the due date I go to the bank to withdraw the money, the manager says, “I am sorry, Dr Toh, you will have to come next year”, there will be a run on the bank!

It is as simple as this, that the CPF has lost its credibility, the management of it. This is fundamental. You were taken by surprise by Medisave. Then they say, "6% of your Special Account will be kept for Medisave and you cannot withdraw that, even if you were to die.

杜进才所指正的“政府不应该将医疗费用转嫁给国民”一席话,三十年后依然经得起考验。在今年初的财政辩论,政府来个急转弯,推出“建国一代配套”,承诺为这一代人提供更高的医疗津贴,算是顺应时势所采取的折中方案。当然详细内容还有待公布。

正因为公积金政策背后有许多不透明的尺度,连杜进才都无法理解的计算方式等,三十年后的今天我们才会依旧在信任与原则的基本层面打滚,例如持续争辩公积金去了哪儿,怀疑公积金是否安全,担心公积金利率是否追得上通膨,甚至提问最基本的:到底这笔养老金是谁的,谁最适合管理我们自己的财产。

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

CPF问题又再次引起了热议,作者提问的问题是所有人关心的。政府以需要为通膨为理由不断将最低存款调高,可是关键是通膨是否如所调整幅度一样达到每年6.3巴仙?如是,那么CPF过去支付给我们户头的利息如此之低我们的存款不是一直在缩水。虽然我认同它支付的利息比起外面的银行是来得高,可是这样的认同接受是建立在认为通膨是处于3巴仙左右而不是6.3巴仙。那如果通膨不是6.3巴仙,CPF 又有何理由提高这最低存款?莫非它又可以假设人民基本开销的增加?

这几天看到许多议员提出为CPF户头存款增加利息回报的建议,看来加息的可能性很高。可是我们先别太高兴。

假如说一名会员在1988年时花了户头里5万元买了间4房式屋子,26年后的今天如果他卖了屋子他可以获利$450,000-$95,000(利息(2.5巴仙)+本金填补回户头)=$355,000。
假如利息调高到6巴仙,26年后同样的$50,000填补回户头数目可以高达$230,000。如果房价不因利息的上涨还是在$450,000其获利就会下降到$450,000-$230,000=$120,000。但是石如果房价因利息调高而更大幅度上涨,最终人民是房价及利息两面都受害吧?

因此换个角度看,只要利息高就意味高通膨,钞票购买力缩水从5万元买一间4房式到用45万或更多钱才能买得到同样的房子。万一薪水增长一直停滞,就是上一代仅用10年付清房贷而下一代用一辈子都可能还不了。而当建屋局又不可能让所有人民分配到屋子的话,请问人民是不是只能眼睁睁看着自己CPF戶头里的钱在缩水。所以高通膨的原因看来与高房价不无关系。

那么我们回来看CPF是不是不应可以在退休后一次性提出巨款的安排。许多人说这是我的钱应当让我自己掌管。其实不然,福利金制度是让人们退休后不用为没有收入的日子设想。公积金就是这样的制度,政府立法规定雇主为雇员缴交部分是严格执行的。试想如果沒有它不惜将头家们控上法庭,你们认为这些商人会不会主动为雇员打算其日后的退休金?如果沒有强制的规定,雇主有可能将省下的成本酬赏回雇员?或许你会说这个规定也造成雇佣成本高让你失去竞争力,可是政府只要能够继续引进投资,它是可以驳斥这论调的。因此这雇主缴交部分我相信是政府为人民争取到的。

至于雇员那部分,我想很多人都会同意如果沒有强制性在你薪水按月扣下来,很多人在忙碌了一生后会发现自己也储存不到一些钱。所以归功究底还是CPF的功劳。综观这两点,是不是可以说这福利金能够存下来全是政府的功劳,不然屁啊人民会有这么多钱。既然是它给带来的,当然怎么用应该听它的。

最终不允许会员一次性提出现金,只允许填补入受益者户头可以帮助下一代更容易拥屋,为保健准备及晚年年金张罗是不是更理想。也可以鼓励更多人结婚生子继承这CPF财富。如不愿如此,财富拨入慈善也是造福国家。新移民加入这体制体现他们的诚意。国家因人民的奉献低息资金会更壮大。这才是举世无双,唯我独尊!

至于网上质疑投资失利的言论无需担心,多选些反对党去监督不就得了吗?再也不用质疑CPF无能力偿还所以毎年调高最低存款,因大家再也不提款了。再也不会浪费时间在国会发言浪费纳税人的钱。