South Africa: President Ramaphosa enacts law allowing emergency access to retirement funds

President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill of 2023, which establishes a “two-pot” system that gives members of retirement funds access to retirement savings without having to resign or cash out entire pension funds.

The amendment law introduces a “two-pot” retirement system to address the concerns related to lack of preservation before retirement and lack of access to retirement funds by households in financial distress. 

This retirement system comprises a savings and retirement component for contributions made after 1 September 2024, while historical retirement benefits will be housed in a vested component. 

Individuals will have access to amounts in the savings component before retirement for times of financial distress, and the amounts in the retirement component are preserved until retirement.

The primary objective of the two-pot retirement system is to provide flexibility for fund members to access their retirement savings during emergencies, without necessitating resignation.

The reform introduced by the legislation strives to strike a balance between long-term security and immediate needs, recognising life’s unpredictability.

It permits fund members to access a portion of their savings during crises, such as those seen during the COVID-19 challenges.

These changes ensure the retirement system remains responsive to diverse financial needs, supporting both long-term financial security and immediate assistance during emergencies.

Traditional retirement systems primarily focus on long-term savings, often lacking the adaptability to address immediate financial crises.

President Ramaphosa said: “While we are continuing the task of growing our economy to create more opportunities for all South Africans and reduce the financial vulnerability affecting many individuals and households, the new retirement system offers protection and dignity to those who need it the most to overcome financial stress.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa.

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