KUALA LUMPUR: Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members can now withdraw up to RM10,000 from their Account 1.
Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the i-Sinar facility was now widened to all EPF members who lost their jobs or whose income suffered due to the pandemic.
“No matter if they are members from the formal sector or self employed, active contributing members or otherwise, as long as their income has been greatly affected, they can withdraw from the Account 1 savings.
“Currently, only two million members qualify for the i-Sinar facility but now it has been extended to more than eight million members.
“Apart from that, each member was only allowed to withdraw up to RM9,000 but now they can withdraw up to RM10,000, ” said Tengku Zafrul in his winding up speech on Budget 2021.
This was met with thunderous thumps on the table by lawmakers who were happy with the announcement.
Tengku Zafrul said those affected need to either apply online or go to the nearest EPF office and show proof of their loss of employment, unpaid leave notice, reduced salary, allowance or overtime claims, or even reduction of income if they were self-employed.
The Senator explained that EPF was set up in 1951 for members as a security net for their golden years.
“As such, each sudden withdrawal need scrutiny and careful consideration.
“The issues related to EPF’s Account 1 is about finding the right balance, between fulfilling two different needs of the members.
“The first is to ensure continuity of their daily livelihood and secondly, to ensure their retirement in the future, ” said Tengku Zafrul.
He said many, including lawmakers, had requested for a one-off lump sum withdrawal.
He said the voices of netizens on social media were also taken into consideration.
However, the government was also aware of reports of grouses by some EPF members that their dividends and growth of their funds would take a hit due to the large withdrawals by other members.
Tengku Zafrul added that even in March, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government had first allowed withdrawal of up to RM6,000 from Account 2 of the
EPF through the i-Lestari programme, which benefited 4.7 million rakyat.
“Although the government was then criticised for the initiative, I must stress that the government is responsive and will act appropriately for the betterment of the rakyat, without forsaking other responsibilities, ” he said.
Earlier this month, Tengku Zafrul said the i-Sinar programme was introduced allowing up to 600,000 EPF members to withdraw up to RM6,000 from their Account 1, but it was later expanded to two million active members who were allowed to withdraw up to RM9,000, subject to terms and conditions.
“The government continues to be sensitive to the complaints from members and MPs who insisted on the strict conditions imposed on the withdrawal.
“Some complained that they did not lose their jobs but had their salary, allowance or overtime cut and that caused a dent on their ability to support their families, or some members who have not contributed for years but still have their savings, as such, they were not eligible to apply.
“The government listened to all of this, ” he said.
Tengku Zafrul reminded that every withdrawal from EPF must be done with full responsibility as it was a collective responsibility for all members.
He also said it was the government’s responsibility to find the balance between the needs of today and the retirement security for the future of EPF members.
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