Ahead of budget re-tabling, PM Anwar says looking for solutions so public need not dip into EPF savings

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

BESTARI JAYA, Feb 9 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today that his administration does not intend to encourage the public to withdraw any more money from their retirement savings.

Following moves by previous governments allowing withdrawals from the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) as a way to handle rising costs of living, Anwar said his government is instead working hard to find better solutions.

“In the past we asked to be allowed to withdraw some money from their EPF savings but what if they now only have RM10,000 or RM5,000 left?

“Still want to withdraw? What happens in three to five years when they retire, reach pension age? I know it's their money but if you take all the money out then what about the kids and your future.

“That's why I feel coverage should be fair regarding this and we must and are finding different ways to try and alleviate the people's burden,” he said when met by reporters at Universiti Selangor here.

Between 2020 and 2022, under the leadership of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the government allowed four special EPF withdrawals.

EPF itself in March last year issued a stern warning against allowing more withdrawals.

It said that the country could be facing a crisis where citizens do not have enough savings for their retirement.

Despite that, Ismail Sabri had been asking the public to make their voices heard if they want to withdraw their EPF money as he too faced this dilemma when he was prime minister.

Meanwhile, Anwar said the focus for his revised Budget 2023 on February 24 will be to alleviate the public's burden regarding the high cost of living.

He also said Putrajaya will be looking into digitalisation and food security.

“The focus is on overcoming the deficit, going more digital, food security and cost of living so the people's sufferings can be alleviated,” he said.

Budget 2023 scheduled to be presented again in Parliament on February 24 will not be tied to the budget presented by the previous government in October 2022.

Anwar who is also the finance minister said Budget 2023 priority will be given to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in high-impact sectors such as technology, agriculture and renewable energy and which have export capabilities.

The Finance Ministry also launched the Budget 2023 Proposal Portal to make the annual budget preparation process more transparent and inclusive which welcomes the involvement of all levels of the people.