Save our savings, give more help please

The govt should look into allowing people to withdraw money or give them a loan as means to venture into making small businesses


THE issue of withdrawal from the Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) Account 1 has been hotly debated on social media recently.

It becomes more widely discussed when even the former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak put the idea to withdraw as much as RM10,000 forward. He also sets this as part of the Barisan Nasional condition to supporting Budget 2021. Instead of a serious discussion between sustainability savings and economic repercussion, the idea now has turned into a political move for some.

Firstly, we need to get the right perspective on EPF’s roles. Its main objective is to maintain the mandate and trust of contributors’ money as savings for old age. Sure, it can also be considered as force savings, but it is very worrying when the EPF CEO said 38% of contributors have savings less than RM10,000 in the account. If the withdrawal is allowed, the contributor will live a maximum of RM41 a day after retirement. But we also need to bear in mind that there will be no future if people are struggling to make ends meet today.

I hope the government will look into allowing people to withdraw money or give them a loan not to be used for personal gain, but as means to venture into making small businesses, like Makcik Kiah for example, to survive and make a living. Desperate people cannot think wisely and it is feared they will borrow with AhLong for fast cash. That will be the worst.

The government’s move to allow the people to dig out their retirement savings to survive today is very inappropriate. To make matters worse, there is no other available alternative. So how do you expect to survive?

One-off help is not enough. How long can a food pack last? Those in middle 40% and top 20% income groups are also affected, and without meaningful change in policies, they are likely to fall under the category of “New Poor People” who, unfortunately are not entitled to government assistance, yet.

The government or Bank Negara Malaysia should provide some funds in Budget 2021, for example allocating RM50 billion for the said loan. Instead of allowing people to take out EPF senselessly, give them a personal loan as capital to start or sustain their businesses.

We must remember that there are businessmen and well-off individuals especially in tourism and airline industry who might put their house as collateral and take out more cash from the difference in house price and market value.

Maybe the government could impose 1%-4% interest charge and monthly repayment which only starts 12-18 months after the loan is approved.

The bank does not provide these facilities because those affected will be placed in the high risk category, job losses will be confirmed. This is why the government needs to step in to help. Simplify matters and there is no need to requite 400 pages business plan for approval in this trying time.

We need more during this unprecedented event. More and more productive ideas to help the people and Malaysia!

Izaan Jamil
Kota Kinabalu

The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.