The EPF had previously abolished the conditions for the i-Sinar application on PM’s advice
by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
A TOTAL of RM52.48 billion involving 5.94 million applicants for the i-Sinar scheme under the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) had been approved as of March 14. Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said of the total, RM32.74 billion had already been credited to the recipients.
“Starting from March 8, the eligibility for i-Sinar had been improved to continue helping the survival of Malaysians,” he said at the presentation of the 46th Implementation and Coordination Unit between National Agencies report yesterday.
The EPF had previously abolished the conditions for the i-Sinar application on the advice of Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Application for the unconditional i-Sinar facility had been open since March 8 for all members under the age of 55, subject to the balance in their Account 1.
New applications are processed within five working days after which, members can start checking the status of their applications and the date of payment.
Tengku Zafrul added that as of March 12, the cumulative withdrawal was RM19.45 billion involving 5.23 million recipients, compared to RM18.58 billion worth of withdrawal by 5.18 million recipients in the previous week.
“Retirement planning is important and the public is recommended to use the Retirement Advisory Service provided by the EPF for this purpose,” he emphasised.
Previously, the EPF said it will continue to sell off its assets to make funds available to depositors who are withdrawing from their Accounts 1 and 2.
It is estimated both i-Lestari and i-Sinar schemes will see roughly RM45 billion pulled out by the end of next year, as eligible members are granted early access to their retirement savings.
That being said, Malaysians have been using their i-Sinar withdrawals for a variety of reasons ranging from investment into golds, stocks, cryptocurrencies and private retirement schemes.
Speaking on the national debt, Tengku Zafrul said the government debt is still below statutory limits by law and the definition of statutory debt has not changed since 2009.
The minister noted that he was called to answer issues related to the national debt, as it was raised by many parties recently.
He said the statutory limits that were often mentioned were the statutory limits for debt instruments issued by the government, namely Malaysian Government Securities, Malaysian Government Investment Issues and Malaysian Islamic Treasury Bills.
“The types of debts calculated under this statutory limit are under the Act adopted by the government since 2009, not my translation alone.
“The total debt for these three government-issued instruments as at the end of December 2020 is 58% of GDP.
“As of Feb 2021, this total debt is 54% of GDP and is expected to reach 58.5% by the end of this year. So, the statutory debt limit has not yet exceeded the 60% ceiling,” he noted.
Tengku Zafrul added that other debt instruments had their own statutory limits and all of them were still below the Act’s limit of RM35 billion for foreign loans and RM10 billion for Malaysian Treasury Bill debts.
He said in a normal economic situation, the government would balance spending for people and the country’s debt ratio.
However, when the country is in an economic crisis, the need for public spending will be greater, causing the debt level to increase.
“The government has prioritised helping the people, including by injecting a total of RM340 billion into the economy through a series of stimulus packages.
“Even though it raises our debt, it still does not exceed the statutory limit as explained.
“At the same time, the Finance Ministry will continue to monitor the country’s debt to ensure it is under control to maintain the confidence of investors and international agencies,” he noted.
Without their investors’ confidence, the people will be negatively affected such as unemployment and lack of business opportunities, he added. Tengku Zafrul further explained that there are good debts and bad debts in the country.
Good debts include loans taken by the government to cover the cost of initiatives to save jobs and to develop infrastructures like highways and other public facilities, whereas a bad debt does not bring any economic benefits or advantages to the people.
“There are some legacy debts that the government has to manage today. The impact is huge and we are still trying our best to manage it.
“However, this is not an excuse for the government not to spend on the people. As I mentioned before, the government will still prioritise spending for people through the 6R strategy — Resolve, Resilience, Restart, Recovery, Revitalise and Reform,” he concluded.
Read our previous report here