The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) launched several initiatives this year to alleviate the nations’ financial struggles through the pandemic. As an effort to ensure continued financial provision in the new year, EPF has 2 new initiatives known as i-Sayang and i-Lindung. These plans are expected to be available in the first few months of 2022.
This initiative allows husbands to voluntarily transfer 2% of his contribution to his wife. The exact how-to details and eligibility has yet to be confirmed. With this effort, living expenses will be made bearable especially for lower income communities.
Based on a study in 2019, it was discovered that 45.5% of the Malaysian population didn’t have medical coverage. The rollout of i-Lindung will allow members to purchase Life and Critical Illness Insurance or Takaful plans via funds from their EPF Account 2. This initiative is designed to offer financial support to those who are unable to fund bills with their living expenses.
Impact of EPF withdrawals
EPF Chairman Tan Sri Ahmad Badri warned that EPF members have potential to see poverty in their retirement or old age. It was noted that almost 50% of EPF members under the age of 55 years have alarmingly low retirement savings as a result of over RM101 billion being withdrawn in 2021.
The withdrawals were made through the various initiatives previously offered (i-Lestari, i-Sinar and i-Citra) to alleviate the financial difficulties faced during the peak of the pandemic. Tan Sri Ahmad Badri also noted that only 3 out of 10 working adults have some form of social financial support, leaving many Malaysians with uncertain financial futures.
The glaring issue of inequality was made crystal clear with the pandemic, pushing authorities and decision makers to find solutions to ensure funds are properly managed by the government, employers and employees themselves.
Following that, while cash withdrawals are risky, i-Sayang and i-Lindung are designed for security. In addition to this, EPF will also be looking to devise further efforts to increase retirement savings for employees. It was noted that there will be voluntary excess schemes for companies to offer more than the 11% statutory rate as an employment incentive.
Decide what’s right for you
While these financial efforts have been well received, it’s important to note that where EPF withdrawals are made accessible, they should only be utilised when needed. They are definitely efficient short-term fixes but don’t offer long-term financial protection; defying the main purpose of EPF for its members.
When making financial decisions involving your retirement funds, always do what is right for you personally, not based on what everyone else is doing or what is available. It helps to weigh out your immediate needs vs your long-term needs to see how much to withdraw, how to use it and how you can replenish it.
In regards to the upcoming initiatives, we look forward to i-Lindung in particular; as it offers equal opportunity to EPF members to get some form of financial protection. While this is especially beneficial to those without an existing medical or life plan, it’s also an opportunity for anyone with existing insurance or takaful plans to further expand their coverage as needed.
Follow Etiqa online and stay tuned for updates on i-Sayang & i-Lindung.
The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as advice on any matter. Etiqa accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from reliance on information contained in this article.