KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 (Bernama) — The government’s announcement that contributors to the Employee Provident Fund are allowed to withdraw from their Account 2, effective from April 1,  is a move which will lighten the burden of almost 12 million contributors faced with the impact of the spread of COVID-19.

Economist emeritus professor Dr Barjoyai Bardai from Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (Unirazak) said this will benefit the public who will be able to purchase essential goods during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period as household spending increases as a result of restricted movement.

“The initiative will really help, for instance if there are two people in a home, one spends RM10 a day, both will need at least RM280 in two weeks, so if they can withdraw RM500, I feel it will be sufficient. It is not just for food, but also to pay for utilities and other expenses,” he told Bernama today.

However, Barjoyai who is a lecturer with Unirazak’s Graduate School of Business said, the initiative may not be sufficient as there were many people with no EPF savings as they were self-employed and did not contribute to the fund.

As such, he said, the government must come up with other initiatives to help these people, such as by introducing basic food aid like ‘food stamps’ as in countries like America.





“If we give them food stamps as aid worth about RM300 a month, this will be a big help to the poor (B40) group who are self-employed, micro traders and retirees, there are people who need them as they may have lost their jobs or had to take unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.

Barjoyai also urged the government to set up an endowment body to reduce the people’s dependency on the government in the long term.

He said government-linked companies and the public could contribute to the body and its profits could be used in times of crisis.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced today that EPF contributors up to the age of 55 years could withdraw from their Account Two from April 1 to lighten their burden during the COVID-19 crisis.

The i-Lestari withdrawal facility will benefit up to 12 million EPF contributors, with withdrawals amounting to about RM40 billion.





Through this facility, all EPF members up to the age  of 55 could withdraw their savings from Account 2, up to a maximum of RM500 a month for 12 months.

Meanwhile, private sector employer Syazwan Husaini Sanusi, 29, said the initiative was a good move to help the needy, but added its implementation must be monitored to avoid another mass gathering of people which could lead to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“It could affect long-term savings, but it will help those people in need. So if you do not need extra funds, there is no need to make the withdrawals,” he said.

On the social media, Bernama found that the general response of the public was positive and most people agreed that the initiative would help reduce their burden during the MCO period.

On Facebook, account-holder Akmar Harun said, “Alhamdulillah, this is good news for Malaysians, this initiative will help people with their daily needs, for traders like us, when there is no work, there is no income, thank you PM.”

Meanwhile, Sofia Aneesa said: “This is a good move to help the people in times of crisis like now, hopefully, those who are self-employed and has no EPF can also be helped, thank you TSMY!,” she said.



TAG: EPF, withdrawal, lighten burden, COVID-19, MCO