President Halimah Yacob pressed a raw nerve during her parliament address last week, suggesting CPF reforms that are based on Walter Theseira’s research. Walter Theseira is an economist at Singapore University of Social Sciences who called for the prevention of the usage of CPF funds for housing. He argues that CPF has been trying to “do a little too much”, and should go back to doing what it was originally purposed for: retirement. However, this suggestion drew controversy, with many being upset that the CPF would be “locked away”.
Digging deeper, Theseira also suggested that the government could reduce the contribution rates of CPF, so that people could set aside money from their take-home income to plan for housing instead, which could encourage prudence and lower housing prices dramatically. Nonetheless, shifting the role of CPF back to a means for social security, while ensuring that every Singaporean can afford a roof over his head, is a tough balance to strike.