KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — More than 99,000 Employee Provident Fund (EPF) contributors have reportedly appealed to the government to allow targeted withdrawals, claiming they need the cash to pay off outstanding debts.
A non-governmental group calling itself Pertubuhan Gagasan Inovasi Rakyat Malaysia (PGIRM) who represented them said about 27.4 per cent of 99,335 individuals have or are on the verge of being evicted from their homes, while 65.8 per cent have been blacklisted by financial institutions.
“We are not saying that 8.1 million contributors need another withdrawal. We are saying only 99,335 who are desperate and who have fallen through the cracks need to withdraw from their Account One without any collateral or condition,” its president Azmi Mohd Tahir said in a statement reported by The Star.
The group said 83.1 per cent of the 99,335 who requested another round of targeted withdrawals from their EPF Account One are aged 40 and above, citing its own survey conducted between May 15 and 29.
Azmi however said the group was not advocating for another blanket withdrawal scheme similar to the four that occurred from 2020 to 2022 to help Malaysians cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On May 8, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that the government would stop special EPF withdrawals despite calls for its continuation.
During the Covid-19 pandemic phase, EPF members withdrew RM145 billion in total from the retirement fund under four separate schemes since 2020 to help households deal with the impact of the pandemic.
These withdrawals were done via initiatives that included the i-Lestari with RM20.8 billion in withdrawals by 5.3 million contributors, i-Sinar (RM58.7 billion by 6.6 million), and i-Citra (RM21.4 billion by 5.2 million).
It was during the Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob administration which allowed a special fourth round of withdrawals which were taken up by 6.6 million EPF members who took out RM44.6 billion.
As a concession, the Anwar administration introduced the Financial Support Account Two Scheme (FSA2) where contributors could use the amount in their Account Two to support loan applications from two participating banks.
From the PGIRM survey, Azmi said only 7.3 per cent of the 99,335 in the PGIRM survey had applied for the FSA2, and the rest either did not meet the scheme’s conditions or did not want to be saddled with another bank loan.
From the surveyed, 63.75 per cent have utility bills as outstanding debts, followed by personal loans at 51.3 per cent, vehicle loans at 46 per cent, rent at 37.2 per cent and repaying money lenders at 21.1 per cent.
Azmi also said that respondents include those who are middle-aged and had lost their jobs, had their incomes slashed due to the pandemic, are unable to get a full-time job due to age or health, had depleted their life savings during the pandemic, as well as those who seek capital for small businesses.