NSF optimistic on reaching 1 million member mark

The National Savings Fund (NSF) is confident membership will reach 1 million this year as state enterprise officials who are not provident fund members have been permitted to join the voluntary pension fund for self-employed workers.

The NSF plans to discuss fund membership with employees of three large state enterprises to encourage them. The fund signed a deal with the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) to allow staff who are not members of any provident funds to contribute to the pension fund, said Jaruluck Ruengsuwan, secretary-general of NSF.

The NSF has 590,000 members.

The PEA is the first state enterprise to participate in the NSF’s retirement savings scheme.

“We’ve tried to attract [employees of] all state enterprises to join the NSF for retirement. If they start saving at age 30 and continue until retirement, their returns would average 9%,” she said.

The NSF, which was set up in August 2015, is a retirement safety net for self-employed workers who are not covered by a pension fund, social security or a provident fund. People aged 15-60 are eligible to apply for membership.

The current structure requires voluntary pension fund members to make a minimum contribution of 50 baht a month, up to a maximum of 13,200 baht a year. The structure sees the government make 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 up to 1,200 baht a year.

The NSF tried in vain to reach 1 million members over the past two years, but failed largely because of low matching contributions from contributors and the government.

Regarding the revision of regulations to raise the NSF’s member ceiling contribution to 30,000 baht a year from 12,000, Ms Jaruluck said the revision is being amended, including widening contributors’ age range to 7-65.

Increasing the maximum age to 65 matches the government’s plan to raise civil servants’ retirement age to 65.

Amnuay Preemonwong, deputy finance permanent secretary and chief of the revenue cluster, said attracting state enterprise employees who are not provident fund members aims to give them a retirement safety net, in compliance with the Finance Ministry’s policy to solicit workers who are not covered by provident funds to join the retirement savings scheme. Many people are not in a retirement savings scheme, he said, without providing a figure.

Sermsakul Klaikaew, the PEA governor, said 3,900 of its 6,000 staff are NSF members, with the PEA remitting contributions.

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