Ideally, retirement means a person retire from their regular career; enter a new life span to review what they have contributed to their profession throughout their early and middle adulthood. When a person entering retirement, they must enjoy the rest of their life, the fruitful harvest gain from their previous efforts and pursuing a new goal with their spare leisure time.
The beautiful picture of retirement can only be achieved if you are being protected with a good retirement protection, such as provident funds or personal savings. Without these schemes, I am afraid the retirement will only be a start of a nightmare. In fact, before the implementation of the Mandatory Provident Fund scheme, only about one-third of the workforce of 3.4 million people have some form of retirement protection.
Contribution from the advancement of education level, numerous breakthrough in the medical treatment, modern technology to combat the natural disasters and so on, Hong Kong ‘s population are living much larger than before, but also getting older in a fast tempo. Nowadays, already ten percent of our population is aged 65 and above. By 2016 the proportion will be 13 percent and one senior citizen in every 5 people by 2035.
Unless some way is found of funding the welfare and health needs of the growing population of elderly, a massive burden will fall on the shoulders of the taxable working population. Their wages will be heavily taxed to meet the demands. Without sufficient financial resources, the scarce resources will jeopardize the well medical services and welfare we are enjoying now, something must be done to cope with the predicted situation.
The Pathway to Retirement Protection—Mandatory Provident Fund
The World Bank have outlined a framework of the protection for the elderly, so called ‘three pillars of old age protection’. This recommended that old-age programs should protect the old and also promote economic growth. The three pillars recommended by the World Bank are
Mandatory, privately managed, fully catering funded contribution scheme.
Publicly managed, tax-financed social safety net for the old.
Voluntary personal savings and insurance.
The SAR government is operating a Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme, which provides basic social security to the needy, and after much debate it was decided in 1995 that the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) Scheme should be introduced, there was considerable argument as to the best system for Hong Kong. With the introduction of MPF, complemented by personal savings, Hong Kong will have in place all the three pillars for old age protection.
Mandatory Provident Fund Scheme Ordinance requires all employees (irrespective of their status as a temporary staff or part time worker) and self-employed persons to join a MPF scheme under which contributions will be saved for retirement. The ideology is to ensure people are adequately provided for upon reaching retirement age.
Employer and employee each pay 5 percent of an employee’s monthly salary into a privately run pension plan. The MPF law gives an employee a range of investment choices under an employer’s MPF scheme. Generally speaking, without other circumstances, the member can only collect the lump sum of the MPF benefits when they attain the retirement age of 65.
Mandatory Provident Fund scheme which starts in December 2000, this scheme represents a starting point for forcing individuals to plan for their retirement. Besides helping to provide for the retirement needs of millions of people, the MPF is likely to radically reshape savings habits and investment attitudes and it will extend the pension umbrella to the remaining two million employed by about 250,000 small and medium sized companies.
Different retirement protection systems have their advantages and disadvantages. After careful consideration, it is generally accepted that MPF best suits Hong Kong’ needs, but as we know, no system is prefect, MPF is no exception, this controversial policy have drawn many criticisms.
Libertarians claim the system run contrary to the Hong Kong spirit, as individuals and firms are coerced into savings decisions they are better placed to make alone.