TH’s haj subsidy will not affect hibah payment, says minister

New management team still scrutinising TH’s accounts, according to Mujahid


Lembaga Tabung Haji’s (TH) dividend payment for 2018 is not expected to be affected by the fund’s commitment to subsidise pilgrim fares for the haj this year, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Religious Affairs Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said.

The state-owned fund has decided to absorb more than RM306 million in subsidies to facilitate first-time pilgrims performing the haj this year, despite having little room for its dividend distribution.

While the transfer of its underperforming assets to a special-purpose vehicle (SPV) in December last year has allowed the fund to balance its battered financials, TH warned its 9.7 million depositors not to expect a hefty “hibah” — a reference to a gift based on Islamic dividend-sharing principles.

However, Mujahid has given his assurance that the pilgrim subsidy will have no impact on TH’s ability to distribute its annual hibah.

“We don’t intend to absorb (the haj subsidy) at the cost of other (aspects of TH’s operations). So, to answer your question on how it will affect the dividends, you will have to wait for the other announcement.

“We hope to announce the good news, God willing,” he said at a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The minister said the new TH management team, led by chairman Tan Sri Mohammed Nor Md Yusof and CEO Datuk Seri Zukri Samat, is still in the middle of scrutinising the fund’s accounts.

Mujahid said the hibah payout announcement will likely be made in mid-March.

Meanwhile, he said the restructuring at TH is progressing “very smoothly”. However, Mujahid said it is too early to derive any results from the asset transfer exercise after only a month.

“I think it is too early for us to indicate the results quantitatively. In terms of the process, the flow is going very smoothly.

“From there, we can expect that by the fourth quarter this year, some results can be seen from the restructuring. As of now, if you ask me what the results are in terms of numbers, we cannot provide the details,” he said.

The move to shift the underperforming assets was mooted by the government after financial audits showed a RM4.1 billion gaping hole between the fund’s liabilities against its assets at the end of 2017.

The government released a damning report in Parliament last year which indicated that the fund had declared illegal hibah since 2014.

The TH Act 1995, a bylaw that governs the fund, prohibits dividend and bonus payments if its assets are lower than its liabilities.

TH is also not allowed to pay the yearly hibah if it is not profitable.

In turn, the government created the SPV, Urusharta Jamaah Sdn Bhd, last year which paid RM19.9 billion for TH’s securities and other assets. The SPV issued Islamic notes to finance the purchase.

Securities of 106 underperforming stocks previously owned by TH have been moved to the SPV, with unrealised losses of the top 10 counters totalling RM4.6 billion. The highest unrealised loss was 96.5%. Other assets included in the transfer were 29 properties and one unlisted plantation firm.