KUALA LUMPUR ,Jan 19– The government’s move to enhance the Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) i-Sinar programme for greater accessibility for members is welcome – as long as effective mechanisms are in place to ensure the B40 group receives the aid without prolonged delay.
In emphasising this, Universiti Tun Abdul Razak economist Prof Emeritus Barjoyai Bardai said the present movement control order (MCO) in several states can hinder certain borrowers from being able to reach out to EPF to apply for the aid.
“Those in the B40 category, especially older folks, will have trouble getting online access to fill up their applications, and making phone calls to set up appointments at EPF branches can also be tricky because of the MCO.
“Therefore, EPF has to figure out a way to reach these people, so that they will be able to benefit from this aid immediately,” he told The Vibes.
Barjoyai expressed concern that the i-Sinar disbursement could take months before the required amount is fully provided.
“This creates a disadvantage and a hurdle for the B40 to apply for such aid, to a point that they give up,” he added, stating that such a situation should not arise in the first place.
Meanwhile, Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun described the move as just “a stopgap measure” using the people’s own funds, and a convenient way for the government to shift the socio-economic burden back to the people themselves.
Since the future seems uncertain, he opined that people may want to strengthen their current financial security by withdrawing their funds now.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in announcing the RM15 billion Perlindungan Ekonomi dan Rakyat Malaysia (Permai) relief package, said that the approval process for special EPF withdrawals under the i-Sinar Category 2 will be simplified.
As such, those applying for special withdrawals are now only required to provide a self-declaration of having met the criteria and submit the supporting documents.
Under the Permai scheme, EPF will provide an advance of up to RM1,000 from the amount applied under the facility.