KUALA LUMPUR: If withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) were allowed again, it would adversely affect the country's finances, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The Prime Minister said many countries in the world had decided against allowing withdrawals from their respective retirement funds, despite allowing such withdrawals during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
“We have to be clear about this principle. If we allow it (withdrawals), it will affect the funds of the nation and dividends (from EPF) will be reduced,” Anwar said during a youth dialogue session at the Youth Empowerment Fair in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Sunday (March 19).
Anwar criticised Perikatan Nasional for misleading Malaysians on EPF withdrawals, saying that it was due to the Opposition running out of ideas.
“Because they have no other issues (to raise), now they (Opposition) are saying that we are insulting the poor.
“We are helping the hardcore poor and also farmers. But for them taking donations from tycoons like Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar (Bukhary) is okay,” said Anwar, in an apparent reference towards the ongoing graft charges faced by Perikatan leaders.
Anwar said the EPF is a retirement fund and it is meant to assist Malaysians in their golden years.
“The EPF is for the future after retirement, that is the principle behind it, " said Anwar.
“Some Opposition leaders said the Prime Minister is stupid for asking poor people to take loans (backed by EPF collaterals),” added Anwar.
Anwar said the bank loans backed by EPF savings will incur minimal interest rates and details will be announced by the retirement fund soon.
During the tabling of Budget 2023 last month, Anwar said EPF contributors can use their savings as collateral for emergency loans.
The Opposition had criticised Anwar’s announcement and urged for one-off EPF withdrawals instead.