Return people’s EPF money, union urges govt

by FAYYADH JAFFAR / pic by TMR FILE

THE National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) is urging the government to return Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members’ withdrawn money, saying the government is using the funds to stimulate the economy during the Covid-19 crisis.

NUBE secretary general J Solomon said EPF’s investment assets grew to RM1.02 trillion at the end of 2020 but declined to RM989.14 billion in June 2021.

“Instead of providing rebates and incentives to workers during the pandemic, the government forced workers to withdraw from their savings to boost the economy through the introduction of i-Lestari, i-Sinar and i-Citra.

“EPF members have withdrawn RM101 billion from their savings,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Solomon added that the main aim of the EPF is to provide a savings scheme for its members’ retirement; however, since the pandemic, the EPF’s original goals have begun to shift, and this includes the erosion of savings in this statutory body.

“The ultimate beneficiaries of the schemes are the government and the employers. The government prided itself that its stimulus packages included RM101 billion when it was not from the government’s coffers but from the workers’ retirement savings,” he said.

This has resulted in EPF members being left with savings of less than RM10,000 where some 3.6 million members have less than RM1,000 in their savings, leaving them vulnerable and unprotected for their retirement.

Based on the minimum target of RM240,000 savings that EPF members should have upon reaching the age of 55, only 3% can afford retirement and sustain it with their savings.

“EPF’s primary goal should be to protect employees’ retirement savings and not to please the government for their political mileage and irresponsible employers,” Solomon further said.

At the same time, NUBE reiterated that EPF must ensure that its members’ money is not used to invest directly or indirectly in businesses that exploit workers, promote union busting, or for political mileage.

“Every decision made by the EPF Board must take into account its responsibility to sustain members’ funds for the contributor’s wellbeing for their old age as Malaysia will become an ageing nation by 2030, “ he concluded.