Wednesday, December 2, 2015   

MPF rules easing urged over home purchases

Kelly Ip

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Mandatory Provident Fund scheme should be changed to allow part of the retirement savings to be used by those looking to purchase homes, a business group has urged the chief executive.

The call was made by the Business and Professionals Federation of Hong Kong in an effort to get Leung Chun-ying to incorporate it in his first policy address.

The federation got president David Akers-Jones, a notable Leung supporter during the election for chief executive, to make a brief but pointed appearance at the press conference it held to outline its proposals for the policy address in January.

Chairman David Wong Yau-kar said an improved and remodeled scheme represents a step forward in ensuring retirement security for all.

"Allowing people to use part of their MPF savings to finance home purchases when they are in their 30s should be considered," Wong said in pointing out it has long been in practice in Singapore.

"For most people, a home is the single most valuable asset upon retirement, and to a certain extent the MPF system is contradictory to the retirement principle.

"It is not comprehensive enough."

Wong, reflecting widespread concern about low returns and high fees, called for a review of MPF administration fees and management platforms.

To address that concern, he said: "An alternative low-cost investment scheme should be introduced in the interim, which could be managed or subcontracted out [by the government]."

An expert panel comprising represe
ntatives from all key stakeholders should be appointed in reviewing the current system, he added.

Stressing that retirement protection is a personal responsibility, Wong said he supports a means test for the controversial old-age allowance but cautions the government against irresponsible promises that leave future generations with a long-term burden.

On the issue of housing problems, Wong said the special stamp duty, introduced last month, can be an answer to rising property prices but that the long-term solution still lies on the supply side.

On legalizing standard working hours, Wong fears that implementation will be difficult as such a move can only be effective in curtailing abuses in certain sectors like retailing, security and cleaning services.

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