Withdrawal is a blessing to some people

PETALING JAYA: The i-Sinar withdrawal from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has come in handy for paying debts and making small-time investments, say EPF members.

Syahlia Albina Sari, 47, from Cheras, said she received her i-Sinar withdrawal of RM10,000 in the last week of January and had spent it all on paying debts and Amanah Saham Bumiputra (ASB).

“I am a freelance graphic designer with three children and I needed the i-Sinar to be able to pay debts and also to get back some returns in the near future.

“Although my debts were not that much, the amount I owed to creditors did seem a lot for them. I wanted to settle them. I spent most of my i-Sinar on ASB, as this is a low-risk investment.

“I know many of my friends who took their i-Sinar used it to buy gadgets for their children for online learning. I was lucky I already had those, ” said Syahlia, whose children are aged between one and 12 years old.

She will not be making any more withdrawal from her EPF account in the near future as she needs to keep the money for retirement.

Event planner Muhd Azman Mohd Nawi, in his 40s, said he had to sell nasi lemak for a while when the movement control order was imposed last year and depended on freelance editing to make ends meet.

“All events were cancelled or postponed. There was no income for event planners.

“Many of us started doing small home businesses to survive then, not knowing when events will be allowed again.

“The bills piled up and for people like me, i-Sinar was useful to settle those bills.

“Now that events have been allowed again, I am using i-Sinar for groceries while I wait for my clients to pay up.

“I have been an editor with Disney Channel for 14 years and during the MCO, I had to fall back on that.

“The income was not much but it helped me to survive.

“For many of my fellow practitioners, it was living from day to day and i-Sinar withdrawal was heaven-sent, ” said Muhd Azman.

Meanwhile, Lukman Al-Hakim Latip, 43, used i-Sinar to invest in his own fish-rearing venture in his hometown of Muar.

“It came as a blessing for me and my brother who gave up his job in Singapore to be with his family in Johor during the circuit breaker, ” he said.

He said he had weighed the risk of withdrawing his retirement savings and decided that the pros outweighed the cons.

“I consider this another post-retirement investment and at the same time, I am also able to help my brother and his family, ” said the outlet manager, who has a wife and two young children to care for.

For technical services invigilator Joseph Pereira, 29, i-Sinar allowed him to have some breathing space and cash-in-hand for emergencies.

“My salary adds up to quite a bit when I add in my travel claims so the MCO definitely affected that, ” he said.

Pereira said he mainly used the i-Sinar cash to pay off monthly instalments and counted himself lucky to be able to set aside some for future savings.

First announced in November last year, i-Sinar is a government initiative that allows EPF contributors to prematurely withdraw their savings in their Account 1 to cope with the challenges brought on by the MCO and Covid-19 pandemic.

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