Budget 2023: No to another EPF withdrawal, look at wages as inflation hits, say MPs

06 Oct 2022 08:00am
Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh has raised concerns of allowing another EPF withdrawal.
Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh has raised concerns of allowing another EPF withdrawal.

SHAH ALAM - Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh has raise concerns over Putrajaya's possible move to allow another Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal in the proposed Budget 2023 to gain support as the election nears.

The DAP publicity assistant secretary said that although it was understood that the agenda was still at the discussion stage, she was not sure if some of EPF contributors would be able to withdraw their savings again.

She said the populist move deplete retirement savings.

"As I understand that there have been discussions to allow the withdrawal of EPF savings.

"In my opinion, the government needs to balance its responsibilities to the people and not be populist by introducing absurd proposals such as allowing another EPF withdrawal to buy votes as GE15 approaches," she told Sinar Premium.

In March, the government allowed a special EPF withdrawal of RM10,000 after pressure from some Umno-BN leaders, including its President Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Previously the government allowed EPF withdrawal through three schemes - i-Lestari, i-Sinar and i-Citra amounting to RM101 billion, involving 7.34 million contributors since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country two years ago.

On Jan 15, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said more EPF members will retire below the Poverty Line Income (PGK) if the government allowed additional withdrawals.
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In fact, he said, almost half of EPF members have savings of less than RM10,000 and 55 per cent of them are bumiputera.

Address challenges of declining economy

In the meantime, PKR's Ledang MP Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh hopes Budget 2023 will include measures to curb worsening economy, including looking for a sustainable food security plan and focusing on strengthening aspects of education and public health.

"I think if the government focus on providing subsidies in a targeted manner, it means that the government is still objective and realistic in meeting the needs of the people.

"In addition, the government needs to prepare a 2023 Budget package based on the expected value of the ringgit next year, the projected world oil price per barrel, inflation rate, gross domestic product (GDP) and the country's fiscal deficit in 2023.

"The preparation also needs to be flexible so that the government can give a realistic impression that the 2023 Budget is not ‘ambitious’, " he said.

Most importantly, Syed Ibrahim stressed that development and operations expenditure needs to be controlled in the 2023 Budget with allocations only for urgent projects.

"I see the main aspect that needs to be emphasised by the government is the policy related to wages as people face inflation.

"At the same time, the government also needs to focus on the issue of preparing a long-term food security guarantee plan," he said.