Here’s why some back more i-Citra EPF withdrawals, says Najib

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PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak has highlighted three reasons why some people support more i-Citra EPF withdrawals even if others may disagree.

He said like him, those in favour of i-Citra – a withdrawal facility that was introduced by EPF for those affected by the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020 – are optimistic that it will help kickstart the economy.

Taking to Facebook, the former prime minister said the withdrawals can be managed by increasing the contribution from employers and by restructuring dividend rates.

“The government could give EPF projects as was done when Barisan Nasional was in power with me as prime minister,” he said.

He added that EPF managed Plus Expressway Bhd, Kwasa Damansara and the UK-based Battersea Power Station project.

Secondly, he said those in support of i-Citra believe most Malaysians are responsible.

“Those who withdraw (from) i-Citra are really in need of money. Even if they were to withdraw money, they will work harder to recover their savings through EPF or some other investments,” he said.

Thirdly, Najib said those in support of i-Citra are aware that the pandemic was an extraordinary situation and many have yet to recover due to prolonged lockdowns over the past two years.

He said the “one final” withdrawal could range from RM5,000 to RM10,000 for those in need.

However, those who object to the withdrawal, he said, are of the opinion that the economy had recovered with various job opportunities available to generate income.

But, he added they were also “more pessimistic and cautious”.

He also said those who disagree with allowing EPF members to make further i-Citra withdrawals may feel that the rakyat are not responsible enough to manage the money.

Finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz has so far closed the door on any further withdrawals, saying populist calls by “provocateurs” would only lead to burdening the next generation who would have to care of the elderly with no retirement savings.

A total of RM101 billion has been withdrawn by seven million EPF members under three withdrawal schemes so far.

Last month, EPF warned its members that using pension savings for any emergency would lead to their having “very low” savings in their retirement years and said the problem could be compounded by other uncertainties, such as rising healthcare costs.

It said the withdrawals had left 6.1 million members – nearly half the fund’s contributors – with less than RM10,000 in their accounts.

Of that number, 3.6 million members have less than RM1,000, a far cry from the RM240,000 the EPF had set as the minimum amount members should have when they reach the age of 55 in order to have a “decent retirement”.

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