“The Gov is Basically Telling Us to Take Our Own Money”: Netizens React to EPF Withdrawal Amid Covid-19

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(source: Local Malaysian Artist – Zunar – Hadapi Covid Project)

ICYMI, Prime Minister Muyihiddin Yassin announced last Monday that those below 55 years old can withdraw up to RM500 from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) starting 1 April 2020. Out of the RM161.3 billion economic stimulus package announced recently, RM53.1 billion is from EPF (source: Malay Mail).

EPF membership is mandatory for Malaysian citizens employed in government and private sectors, it’s a saving plan for your future-old-self.

It is estimated that about 40% of active EPF contributors do not even have enough savings in their Account 2 to be able to benefit fully from this programme named i-Lestari. So, this initiative is essentially a drawdown of old-age savings. It seems logical to dip into this pool now, but what about the long term effects since many Malaysians do not have much to begin with?

As for small business owners or the self-employed, for example, your neighbourhood artiste or your fav Makcik-jual-karipap – this option is not even available for them. Ironically, they’re the ones who are really in need of financial aid.

This i-Lestari programme is offered to help ease financial burdens during the Covid-19 pandemic and MCO but so far, many have voiced out their concerns over the programme.

Check out what some Malaysians have to say:

Besides Twitterjaya, The Star reported that entrepreneur Fanny Wong, 39, said the initiative would bring more harm than good in the long run as the public may not have enough savings to support themselves when they retire.

“I think it is better for the government to give financial aid to those with low income instead of asking them to take out money from their savings… Some may not even have much in their savings now,” she said.

In a Malay Mail opinion-report regarding this initiative, Deputy Director of Research at Khazanah Research Institute (KRI), Christopher Choong stated that “In these pressing times, we have to respond to short-term shocks, but we cannot be short-term in thinking.

“We cannot afford to keep dipping into social protection funds to compensate for the lack of fiscal spending. Expanding fiscal resources has to be our next step forward,” he said.

For now, PM Muhyiddin has said that a more comprehensive economic stimulus package and further aid for Malaysians may be announced on March 30. So hopefully, there’s something for everyone besides taking out money from yourself as we go through this time of crisis.

Let’s end on an upbeat tweet and quite a justifiable one too since there are ex- and current politicians like this guy and #bossku.

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