Dr Shahira Abdullah: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs (a) what is the current take-up rate by Malay/Muslims of the national financial and estate planning programmes available; (b) what are the current initiatives available to educate Malay/Muslims on permissible methods of investments and estate planning; and (c) what are the avenues for them to seek clarification or enquire about such financial or estate planning methods.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs & Minister for Social and Family Development:
- Mr Speaker, MoneySense is our national financial education programme that seeks to raise Singaporeans’ financial literacy. Under MoneySense, there are various initiatives, resources and tools to help Singaporeans make prudent decisions related to their savings, housing purchase, investments and retirement planning.
- This is done in two ways:
a. First, MoneySense’s website and social media channels provide free bite-sized information, starter packs, and financial tools on financial planning.
b. Second, MoneySense offers free financial talks and workshops through the Institute for Financial Literacy (IFL). Since March this year, the IFL has been conducting periodic “Ask-Me-Anything” Facebook Live sessions, where individuals can ask trained finance professionals about topics such as estate planning and digital tools for financial planning.
- In addition, MoneySense collaborates with various partners to reach out and provide financial education to Singaporeans at different stages of their lives. For example, MoneySense works with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to incorporate financial planning topics in the marriage preparation programmes. This includes Muslim couples attending the Cinta Abadi Marriage Preparation Programme, where they will learn how to plan ahead by making CPF nominations and the Lasting Power of Attorney.
- Community initiatives supplement these national programmes to further strengthen support for the Malay/Muslim community, including newly-wed couples and young families.
a. MENDAKI SENSE’s Program Bijak Belanja engages young and low-income families to empower them with financial management skills. The workshop is delivered in Malay, and covers practical day-to-day management of family expenses. Topics such as home ownership, basic investment and management of inheritance are also covered in the programme. Over the last two and a half years, more than 600 participants have benefitted from MENDAKI SENSE’s Program Bijak Belanja.
b. As part of the M3 initiative, the Naib Kadi (Solemnisers) will provide marital guidance to newly-wed couples through the Bersamamu programme, so that they have a good start and build a strong foundation to their marriage. Where required, the Naib Kadis will also refer couples to available community and national resources including financial support programmes.
c. Financial planning courses will also be offered to newly-wed couples and young Muslim families under the Temasek Foundation programme called Achieving Resilient and Inspiring Families (Project ARIF). Muis is in discussion with MoneySense to incorporate financial planning components into this programme, which is expected to be implemented next year.
- Religious guidance is also another way provided to the community on matters related to financial and estate planning tools. Muis has conducted seminars and talks on managing inheritance, and organised several Continuous Professional Education (CPE) training programmes on “Wealth and Estate Planning” for our asatizah. A free guidebook on the Islamic Law of Inheritance or what we call Faraidh, covering the financial and estate planning tools that can be practised by Muslims within Singapore’s context, is also accessible online. The guidebook contains a helpful list of Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQs) on managing inheritance.
- In addition, Muis has issued religious rulings or fatwas to guide the community in their estate planning and decision-making:
a. For example, the Hibah Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC) Fatwa permits trusts to be made for disabled dependents to ensure their future well-being when there is no longer a surviving caregiver;
b. Another one, the Joint Tenancy Fatwa permits the surviving joint tenant to have full ownership of the property, without the need for a transfer of ownership and being subjected to distribution of inheritance according to Islamic law; and
c. Third, the CPF Nomination Fatwa recognises the permissibility of the CPF nomination instrument. Muslims can choose the CPF instrument or distribute their wealth according to faraidh, or exercise both options together.
- In 2012, Muis also set up the ‘Wakaf Ilmu’, a voluntary charitable endowment for Muslims to come forward to do planned-giving. The revenue generated through the investment of the Wakaf in capital-guaranteed instruments and properties is channelled towards supporting Islamic education in Singapore.