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EPF offers further details on i-Sinar in response to media query

05 Dec 2020 / 21:09 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), in response to media query, provided the following information on the i-Sinar withdrawal facility.

i-Sinar mechanism

How did EPF come up with the i-Sinar mechanism and criteria?

i-Sinar was formulated after extensive deliberation and consultation with key stakeholders from the public and private sectors including the Ministry of Finance.

The criteria and mechanism were determined with due consideration to balance members’ needs today as well as the EPF’s mandate to safeguard their retirement.

Members are disappointed with the conditions in place which were labelled troublesome and difficult. Comments?

There are no conditions for i-Sinar application. What is outlined are the criteria to ensure that the application matches the EPF’s internal data which will easily and securely expedite the approval process.

The process of verification is required to avoid fraud and improper withdrawal of i-Sinar funds by third parties.

For members who fulfill the criteria, their application will be approved automatically.

Only confirmation of the maximum amount is required during member’s online application, and is not difficult.

Applications start from Dec 21, 2020.

Category 1 is for members who have no contribution for two consecutive months upon application, and the EPF’s internal data is used to verify this. Therefore, no supporting documents are required during application.

Category 2 is for members experiencing a reduction of income, and there is no way for the EPF to confirm this without supporting documents. The EPF can only detect a reduction in basic salary (through contributions) but cannot detect a reduction in allowances, overtime pay, etc.

As each member’s situation is unique, Category 2 provides the opportunity for the EPF to consider these situations based on their supporting documents. Members just need to apply online.

Is a blanket/auto approval for those who also applied i-Lestari not possible? Why?

The situations when the EPF launched i-Lestari and i-Sinar are very different; the country was in a different situation then compared to now. Economic activity basically halted during those months (starting March). Now the economy is almost back to normal and most employees are back to work.

Even so, the EPF understands that the economic situation is different for current members depending on the sector or industry they are working in, and i-Sinar will be available to assist them.

Some members did not suffer a 30 per cent reduction, but they need cash to sustain their livelihood in this pandemic, especially the B40 and M40s.

Also for those whose new income is less than previously. Can they be considered?

There is still latitude under Category 2 to consider applications from all members who are affected by Covid-19. If you have suffered a reduction in income or salary and have the supporting documents to show for it, you are encouraged to apply on Jan 11, 2021. The EPF will still consider your application.

This is to ensure that the door is not closed and provides an opportunity for as many members as possible to apply for i-Sinar, estimated to be eight million.

Why was the six-month staggered payment set as the payment mechanism when members need their money fast? Why can’t it be one-off?

The EPF wishes to ensure members are assisted for as long as possible and understands that the first month is important for members to cover their liabilities and beginning-of-the-year expenses such as children’s schooling and the like.

As such, the staggered approach in payment is based on a few criteria:

Data on current liabilities of EPF members;

The need to spread out the period of assistance due to the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic; and

to balance the cashflow and current investments of the EPF.

As a reminder, the first payment will be up to RM5,000 (for those with Account 1 balance RM100,000 and below) as we understand that more expenses are needed at the beginning of the year for school fees, etc.

It must be remembered that i-Sinar needs to be looked at in a holistic context given the assistance under the PRIHATIN, PENJANA and KITA PRIHATIN stimulus packages which are intended to reduce the burden of cashflow and liabilities of individuals and households.

For example, payment for Bantuan Prihatin Nasional 2.0 (second phase) will be given in January 2021 and bank lending assistance such as moratorium and reduced installments are also available to benefit members.

Can the processing time be cut short as members are desperate? Is there online application to reduce people going to branches?

For those in Category 1, the EPF has expedited the application process via auto-approval using internal data. They are estimated to receive their first payment in mid-January 2021.

For those in Category 2, the EPF estimates the processing time to be between two to three weeks from date of application, to allow document verification and case-by-case consideration. They are estimated to receive their first payment by end of February.

Members are required to apply online.

Before applying members must do the following:

Ensure their i-Akaun is active

Ensure their phone number is update to receive TAC number (at EPF counter or kiosk)

Ensure their bank account number is active

What is the replenishment method for i-Sinar?

For members under i-Sinar, all future contributions will be channeled to Account 1 until the amount taken out is replenished. Once the amount taken out is replenished, contributions will revert to the original ratio of 70:30 in Account 1 and Account 2.

Can action be taken for employers who refuse to cooperate and facilitate their employee’s i-Sinar application?

The EPF will ensure that action is taken against non-cooperative employers, to ensure that members’ i-Sinar applications are smooth.

Impact to members’ retirement + investments

What is the impact of i-Sinar on EPF’s financial health?

Guided by our Strategic Asset Allocation (SAA), our investments have proven to be resilient so far despite the unique challenges that the market faced during the economic slowdown.

The EPF has always been diversifying its investments across domestic and global markets, with the consideration of its need to have sufficient cash flow at all times, and this includes extreme times like the pandemic.

Fundamentally, the EPF is a long-term investor and every investment decision made will continue to take into account its responsibility to sustain members’ funds even in unprecedented situations like this pandemic.

At the moment and guided by i-Sinar’s existing structure, all of the EPF’s actions will ensure there is no impact to the domestic market.

What is the impact of i-Sinar to members’ future retirement? What is EPF’s advice to them?

While the EPF understands the need for members to withdraw from their savings to survive these difficult times, we hope members can plan beforehand on how much is needed so that they can fulfil today’s needs while minimising the impact on their future retirement.

The EPF encourages members to seek our Retirement Advisory Services (RAS) officers for assistance in guiding their finances and rebuilding their nest egg for retirement. -Bernama

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