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aws全区号( EPF withdrawals, paltry retirement savings deepen need for social protection scheme



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ONE should look positively at the call of the Umno leadership for the government to allow more early EPF savings withdrawals by those in need of cash.

One needs to understand that today is as important as tomorrow. The EPF cannot simply be regarded as only a retirement fund but also an emergency fund for people greatly affected by the double whammy of pandemic and floods. When times are good the government can raise the mandatory contributions of both employees and employers to make up for the withdrawals. Most of the withdrawers will over the years, be promoted or seek higher paying jobs and subsequently contribute more to the fund. The crucial issue now is that they need financial help which is nowhere to be found. Hence the people should be allowed to withdraw from their old-age savings while these withdrawals will also have multiplier effects on the economy by way of increased consumption.

The government can also help the EPF by providing more opportunities for investment in high dividend yielding shares and equities in profitable corporations in Malaysia and overseas, thereby increasing the sum of savings in the individual accounts. 

The government has utilised billions of ringgit from the EPF to finance a large number of socio-economic plans and projects since Merdeka. It is therefore obliged to provide incentives for the EPF to reap higher profits that are returned to the contributors. One should recall that a few years ago the EPF was finding it difficult to manage the huge fund with the accumulated hundreds of billions of ringgit and only investing the money in local profitable blue chip and venture companies. The EPF was keen on overseas investments to increase its profits. Therefore withdrawals that are necessary now should be encouraged to lessen the burden of the EPF.

The EPF must also maximise use of its local assets to grow its income. The RRI, now known as Kwasa Damansara, was sold by the federal government to the EPF more than 15 years ago and until today, not a single house has been built on this prime piece of land; only the EPF office building is being constructed there. Infrastructure work in Kwasa Damansara is taking ages to complete. If the RRI had been sold to a private property developer, it would have been turned into a multi-billion ringgit mixed development and made a profit of hundreds of millions of ringgit by now. 

The RRI was sold to the EPF because the government wanted to help the retirement fund to make  profits via the development of Kwasa Damansara, although the purchase price was inflated as was later exposed. The EPF should not be burdened by the government’s conditions, such as for Kwasa Damansara projects to be subject to quotas. This will hamper speedy development of Kwasa Damansara. The EPF should take into account the fact that at least half of the of the 800ha Kwasa Damansara must be used allotted for the building of affordable homes for the B40 and M40 groups, who form the overwhelming majority of the contributors. It should not be focused on condominiums, bungalows and apartments for the rich to gain greater profits but should be mindful of its social duty.


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