DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang today said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin should modify his proposal yesterday to allow withdrawals from the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and instead provide cash support from government reserves to outlast the economic fallout brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Muhyiddin Yassin’s proposal to allow EPF contributors to withdraw up to RM500 a month from Account 2 for the next 12 months beginning April 1 is a disappointment, as it is not a well-thought-out proposal to help workers affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
“This is why it has received brickbats all around,” Lim said in a statement today.
He suggested that Muhyiddin convene an emergency meeting of the National Security Council and the Cabinet today to modify his proposal on early EPF withdrawals.
“To help the workers in the Covid-19 crisis, Muhyiddin should instead announce in a live telecast later today of government provision of cash support from government reserves for Malaysians affected by the crisis.
“I agree with PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that the federal government should utilise the nation’s reserves or increase contribution from state oil and gas Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) rather than use EPF savings to help those who are financially incapacitated by the Covid-19 crisis,” he added.
The Iskandar Puteri MP said the government should also give serious consideration to the proposal by the Pakatan Harapan secretariat for emergency funds to be dispersed via the Cost of Living Aid (BSH), starting with payments of RM1,000 for March and April each.
He said the government should dig into its reserves to fund this proposal, which would cost about RM8.2 million.
Yesterday, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) also urged the government to use its reserve funds to provide interest-free loans, rather than permit workers to make withdrawals from their EPF accounts.
MTUC secretary-general J Solomon said the loans, which should be kept to at least RM5,000 per person, will help workers sustain themselves and their families during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“They should be allowed to start repaying through salary deductions once the situation returns to normal. The government should have the moral courage to dig into its reserves to pump this money directly into the pockets of workers without having to compromise their old age savings,” he had said in a statement. – MMO