Savings Fund membership push proposed

Savings Fund membership push proposed

Ageing demographics require incentives

An elderly man registers for the Rao Chana stimulus scheme. Thailand is projected to become a fully aged society this year, meaning 20% of the population is age 60 or older. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
An elderly man registers for the Rao Chana stimulus scheme. Thailand is projected to become a fully aged society this year, meaning 20% of the population is age 60 or older. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

The Finance Ministry is mulling additional incentives to increase the number of members in the National Savings Fund (NSF) as Thailand is projected to become a "super ageing society" by 2031.

Increasing state contributions to the NSF and extending the maximum membership age to 65 years old from 60 as stipulated by law are among the considerations, said Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, the finance minister.

Thailand became an ageing society in 2005 and is projected to become a fully aged society this year, meaning 20% of the total population is 60 or older, said Mr Arkhom.

The country is projected to be a super ageing society by 2031, meaning 28% of the total population is 65 or older, he said.

Retirement savings are vital because 20 million informal workers in Thailand are without mandatory savings programmes, said Mr Arkhom.

Of the 20 million, around 3 million are registered members of the Social Security Fund in line with Section 40 of the Social Security Act, 2.4 million are NSF members and the rest are not integrated into any retirement savings system.

Thailand has a total workforce of 37 million and 17 million are employees formally integrated into both the mandatory and voluntary savings programmes.

NSF secretary-general Jaruluck Ruengsuwan said the fund proposed changing the maximum membership age to the ministry as well as consideration of increasing state contributions from a maximum of 1,200 baht to 1,800 baht per year.

If state contributions are raised to 1,800 baht per year, fund members would receive a higher amount of money at different ages, while the percentage contribution from the government would remain the same, she said.

The existing structure requires voluntary pension fund members to make a minimum contribution of 50 baht per year and 13,200 baht maximum. There is no requirement for a fixed monthly contribution.

The government makes a matching contribution of up to 50% of whatever members aged 15-30 choose to pay, up to 600 baht a year. For those aged 31-50, the government matches up to 80% of their contributions, up to 960 baht a year. The state matches 100% of members' contributions for those aged 51-60, with the maximum amount capped at 1,200 baht per year.

The NSF has cumulative savings of 8 billion baht. Most of the capital is invested in highly stable assets, with a minimal portion invested in equities.

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