KUCHING: Trade unions in Sarawak and Sabah have criticised Putrajaya’s move to allow the people to withdraw their retirement savings as part of measures to mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19 on workers.
Sarawak Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary Andrew Lo said reducing the EPF contribution and allowing workers to withdraw RM500 a month for a year from Account 2 was “irresponsible”.
“At least, the Sarawak government is providing cash assistance of RM250 a month for six months to the B40 group. Such assistance is better than nothing and is most welcomed,” he said.
Lo said it was “embarrassing and morally wrong” for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to claim that this was part of a package to assist the rakyat.
“It’s our own money,” he said, adding that it showed the government was bankrupt of funds and ideas and taking the easy way out.
“It also shows a lack of leadership and is a result of years of incompetent economic management. At times like this, brave fiscal policies and able leadership are needed, not knee jerk reactions.
“Almost 33% of active EPF contributors have less than RM6,000 in Account 2 as at December 2018 and 28% have less than RM10,000 total EPF savings.”
Most of the B40 group fall into these categories.
Lo advised EPF members to elect to maintain the monthly contribution rates and not to make the monthly withdrawal, saying “nobody is going to take care of them in their old age”.
When announcing the stimulus package, Putrajaya hoped the move would release about RM40 billion into the purse of more than 12 million contributors and relieve the financial burden of many.
Sabah MTUC secretary Catherine Jikunan agreed with Lo that the withdrawal would reduce the contributors’ accumulative savings for their retirement.
Saying the objective of the EPF was to save for old age, she added: “We should not encourage further leakages from this fund. To argue ‘desperate times, desperate measures’ is not right at all.”
Jikunan urged the Sabah government to emulate Sarawak and provide assistance to people suffering from the impact of the MCO.
“Reducing electricity charges and office rentals and deferring loan payments are among measures necessary to support businesses and the rakyat. We are not sure if the MCO will be extended but it will definitely cause the people to suffer,” she said.
She urged the federal government to provide funds to help the workers, especially those in the B40 and M40 groups.
Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal is expected to unveil the government’s stimulus package after the state Cabinet meeting tomorrow.
Tap into Socso, not EPF, says Sabah assistant finance minister
Sabah Assistant Finance Minister Kenny Chua urged Putrajaya to tap into the Social Security Organisation (Socso) instead of EPF to assist workers affected by Covid-19.
“It’s not right for the federal government to allow EPF contributors to dig into their own hard-earned life savings,” the Sabah PKR vice-chairman said.
Chua said Socso was established to provide a social security net for all Malaysian workers.
He also said the federal government could tap into the national reserves and other coffers to help the people.
Chua also urged the federal government to look into the plight of millions of Malaysians who were not contributing to EPF.
“There are many people like farmers, fishermen, vegetable sellers and the self-employed who are not contributing to EPF.
“Many of them have been struggling to earn a living. During this Covid-19 crisis, they are suffering, too, and need financial help from the government,” he said.
Source : https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/…/sabah-sarawak-unions-s…/