PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has called on the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to declare the same dividend of 6.4% in 2015 for last year instead of the 5.7% it had announced on Saturday. Its secretary-general J. Solomon (pix) claimed EPF can pay out the extra 0.7% which incurs an additional payout of around RM4.5 billion. "The EPF invited MTUC working committee on Feb 17 to inform its concluded dividend of 5.7% for 2016. While announcing, EPF basically told that the fixed income market has increased. For the equity market there was three years of negative growth and another factor is depreciation of ringgit," he said in a statement, today. Claiming that EPF had made RM731 billion last year as compared with RM684.5 billion in 2015, Solomon said the majority of EPF's payout amounting to RM37.08 billion will still remain in the fund giving them the ability to retain 6.4% as declared in the previous year. "The equity market for companies when dividend is paid out leaves the company, whereas in EPF when dividend is declared it still remains in the fund. "EPF still has the dividends in the funds and EPF can further invest the dividend to generate income. Therefore even if the equity market ratio has reduced it will be only minimal," he stressed. Solomon added that the increased dividend payout is sustainable because EPF's fundamentals that the contributor's savings on the retirement should be substantial. Meanwhile, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) praised the EPF's dividend declaration despite the slight dip. Its executive director executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said that EPF's performance was still commendable given the tough economic challenges both locally and international as well. "Given the economic conditions, EPF's performance was not expected to match last year. "Other funds such as Amanah Saham Negara (ASN) and Amanah Saham Bumiputra (ASB) also suffered a dip in its performance. However EPF's strategic investments in the UK despite Brexit has given them a slight edge," he told theSun when contacted, today. Their views came after, EPF on Saturday had declared a 5.7% dividend for 2016, with the total payout amounting to RM37.08 billion, a commendable achievement in view of the much tougher market environment. Its chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman had said the EPF is pleased it has been able to consistently exceed its two strategic investment targets of at least 2.5% nominal dividend on a yearly basis and at least 2.0% real dividend on a rolling three-year basis. Samsudin had also said the payout amount required for 1% dividend in 2016 was RM6.51 billion, higher compared with RM5.43 billion in 2014.