PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia announced on Wednesday (March 16) that contributors to the state retirement fund can make another one-off withdrawal of RM10,000 (S$3,200) from their accounts, to help them recover from economic hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Announcing the decision, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the scheme under the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) had been requested by various parties.
"This is a tough decision because it involves the retirement savings of the people. This special withdrawal is a middle path to balance out the pressing needs of today and future savings," said Datuk Seri Ismail.
He said that further details of the scheme will be announced by the Finance Ministry.
This would mark the fourth time EPF contributors have been allowed to withdraw funds from their accounts under a special scheme since the pandemic hit two years ago. Mr Ismail said a total of RM101 billion had been taken out by 7.34 million EPF contributors under the earlier plans.
He said research and thorough scrutiny of the country's Covid-19 recovery phase found that there are still people who have been affected economically, lost their income and are trying to rebuild their lives.
"The government has heard, researched and looked into the requests of several parties who wanted to withdraw funds from their EPF savings," he said.
Nevertheless, he cautioned that contributors should ensure that they still had some savings left in their account for rainy days.
"I hope contributors will weigh the necessary considerations for their future before making withdrawals," he said.
According to the EPF, as at end December 2021, some 6.1 million members, or 40 per cent of its total membership, have less than RM10,000 in their accounts, of which 3.6 million have less than RM1,000.
Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz said in a statement on Wednesday following the announcement that the EPF will release details for the special withdrawal in the near future.
"The EPF will also announce the measures needed to overcome the issue of depleting savings of EPF contributors," he said.