NSF seeks rejig for membership drive
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NSF seeks rejig for membership drive

The National Savings Fund (NSF), a voluntary pension fund for self-employed workers, will seek the government's approval to amend laws to provide perks and raise the state contribution to draw more members.

The fund should offer extra incentives such as group insurance to members as they are now eligible for pension funds after retirement and many Thais are unfamiliar with long-term savings for retirement, said director Ennu Suesuwan.

The NSF could subsidise either all or part of the cost of group insurance, he said.

To enable the NSF to offer perks, the law governing the fund needs to be amended as spending from the fund's capital is restricted to pension payment to members, said Mr Ennu.

The NSF, a retirement safety net for 21 million self-employed workers who are not covered by a pension fund, social security or provident fund, set an aggressive target of 15 million members by 2022.

Mr Ennu said the 15-million-member target is a challenge but the current law is not flexible enough to help the NSF achieve the goal.

The NSF could also offer higher benefits to members whose income is at the low end of the scale in the future to attract them to save for retirement, and this will encourage people to rely more on themselves and alleviate the state's burden, said Mr Ennu.

The fund for self-employed workers is pushing for the state to contribute a higher amount to the NSF, but the ceiling percentage will be maintained as a means to draw the target group to become members.

The current structure requires members to make a minimum contribution of 50 baht a month, up to a maximum of 13,200 baht a year.

The government makes a matching contribution of up to 50% of whatever those aged 15-30 choose to pay, up to 600 baht a year.

For those aged 31-50, the government will match up to 80% of their contributions, up to 960 baht a year.

Those over 50 can have their contribution fully matched by the state for up to 1,200 baht a year.

The law governing the NSF sets a ceiling for state contributions of 6,000 baht per member per year.

People aged 15-60 are eligible to apply for membership.

The NSF's members leapfrogged to more than 2 million from 600,000 in late 2018, thanks to the Interior Ministry's efforts to reach out to rural people.

As of Sept 13, NSF membership totalled 2.1 million.

The fund's capital amounted to 6 billion baht as of Sept 13, compared with 4 billion at the end of 2018.

Mr Ennu said the NSF plans to hold talks with the Public Health Ministry to persuade more than 100,000 community health volunteers who are not covered by any retirement safety net schemes to join the fund.

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