Last Friday (1 May), CPF member Mr Dendroff William wrote to ST Forum asking the government to allow CPF members to withdraw $5,000 from their CPF accounts so as to help tide the people over the current COVID-19 crisis.
Sim Feng Ji, Divisional Director of Income Security Policy from the Manpower Ministry replied today (7 May) essentially saying ‘No’ to Mr William.
Sim started off by saying that the government has already responded to the economic impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic “strongly and decisively” through supplementary budgets totaling $63.7 billion which was announced by DPM Heng Swee Keat earlier.
“These are to support businesses, households and individuals that are affected,” Sim said.
“We are helping businesses retain their local employees through the Jobs Support Scheme by co-funding the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages of each employee for nine months. This is in addition to other relief measures for businesses.”
Sim noted that all households will also get help from the “Care and Support Package”, which includes the one-off “Solidarity” payment of $600 to all Singaporeans above 21.
“Lower-income households get extra help through the Workfare Special Payment and grocery vouchers,” he added.
“Singaporeans affected by job loss or significant income reduction may also get help through the Temporary Relief Fund, Covid-19 Support Grant and Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme.”
Also, all CPF members above 55 can already withdraw up to $5,000 from their CPF Ordinary Account and Special Account, or more if they set aside their Full Retirement Sum in cash or Basic Retirement Sum in cash with property, he shared.
“The Government is mindful that any change to CPF withdrawal policy will impact Singaporeans’ ability to save for retirement. It is therefore better to support members through other means,” he said.
For those who really need help, the CPF Board can work with relevant agencies to assist them, he added.
Whatever it is, Sim is essentially saying people can’t simply withdraw one’s own money from their CPF accounts to tide over crisis caused by the current COVID-19 outbreak, other than what the present CPF rules already allow.
Malaysia’s EPF starts payout from 4 May
Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund (EPF) announced recently that the crediting of approved i-Lestari withdrawals into members’ bank accounts will start on Monday, 4 May to May 18.
The retirement fund said on Sunday (3 May) that the members would be informed, via the i-Lestari Online facility, as soon as the funds transfer is successfully done to their active bank accounts.
“The actual date when the money will be available for withdrawal from bank accounts will be subject to the respective bank’s clearance procedures ranging from one to three days from the date of transfer from the EPF, ” it said.
Chief EPF officer Alizakri Alias said more than 3.51 million applications — capped at RM500 per month — have been approved totaling over RM1.66 billion since the launch of i-Lestari early April.
Alizakri earlier said in March, “i-Lestari will provide some relief to those financially affected during this period of concern and uncertainty.”
He added, “As a retirement fund, the EPF has to strike a balance between our mandate to safeguard our members’ retirement savings, and caring for their well-being.”
Just last week, Alizakri reiterated this by stating that the EPF understands the urgent cash requirements needed to get through the current challenging times even though it was concerned the i-Lestari withdrawals will substantially reduce the members’ retirement savings.
He hopes that members will think deeply before deciding on the amounts to be withdrawn from their account as they will need to balance their present cash needs while ensuring a solid financial future.
He also said once the MCO is lifted, it urged members to make an appointment with EPF’s retirement advisory services officers who would help to review and restructure their retirement plans.
This withdrawal facility will only be effective for a maximum period of 12 months, starting from May this year.