No foul play EPF fire, says Housing Ministry


MO,14/2/2018, PUTRAJAYA: The fire which occurred at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) office in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya yesterday, only damaged five per cent of the building’s exterior. Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar said the fire happened due to the use of polystyrene foam as a cladding material on part of the building’s structure.

“There were repair works on the external insulation finishes system (waterproofing) leakage using granule bitumen membrane rolls. The waterproofing membrane had to be melted using single burner flame gun to allow the material to stick to the concrete floor. “The ignition that triggered the fire was from the liquefied petroleum gas. The spark landed on the cladding which is made from flammable material, which caused the fire to spread quickly.

“I would like to stress that there is no foul play or sabotage elements in this case. It is classified as an accidental fire,” he told a press conference today. Also present at the press conference was Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim.

Noh advised buildings that use polystrene foam or any flammable materials as a cladding to remove them immediately. Materials that are certified by the Fire and Rescue Department to be used as cladding include clay material for for wall finishing, aluminium composite panels and exterior compact high pressure laminates.


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High EPF dividend not election candy, says Johari

MO,14/2/2018, PUTRAJAYA: The 6.9 per cent dividend rate declared by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) on Saturday ? the highest since 1997 ? is not an “election candy” but reflects the country’s strong economic growth, said Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani. He said the 6.9 per cent return for conventional accounts and 6.4 per cent for shariah savings came about as a result of EPF’s domestic and international investments.

“That’s why, to me, the dividend rates for the conventional and shariah schemes are good and are not election candy. It has got nothing to do with the upcoming election. “If the performance is good, the dividends will be (good) as well. In 2016 our economy grew just 4.2 per cent ? what to do if the global economy was also like that (growing slowly). So what is being reflected is what’s actually happening in our country,” he said.

Johari was speaking to the media after welcoming home 2018 Asian Cycling Championships individual time trial (men masters) champion Dr Norhasmat Abdul Aziz here today. Dr Norhasmat, who is Principal Assistant Secretary (Policy and Implementation of Goods  and  Services Tax) at the Ministry of Finance’s Tax Division, clinched the Asian title at the championships held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on Feb 9. On Bank Negara Malaysia’s announcement of a 5.9 per cent growth in the fourth quarter of last year (2016: 4.2 per cent), Johari said the performance was something to be proud of, as Malaysia managed to show good economic growth amid global economic uncertainty.

“All the four quarters of last year showed good numbers with an average of 4.9 per cent and we forecast a strong growth in 2018 with gross domestic product expanding between 5.0 and 5.5 per cent. “This growth indirectly testifies to the effectiveness of the government’s policies all this while, because our economy is still growing despite the uncertain global environment,” he added. – Bernama

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EPF fire: No, your retirement plan is not up in smoke


MO,13/2/2018, PETALING JAYA: The savings and data of all Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors are safe despite the fire that broke out at its building at Jalan Gasing here Tuesday. “We would like to assure members that there has been no compromise to the data integrity or members’ savings in any manner,” the EPF said in a statement.

The fund said its EPF Crisis Response team worked closely with the Fire and Rescue Department to ensure that the fire did not spread to any other floor or to surrounding areas. “As the safety of customers and staff is our prime concern, the building has been totally evacuated, and the office and counter services are closed until further notice.

“We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will provide an update once the branch is back in operation,” it added. The EPF said that members and employers who wish to perform any EPF transactions are advised to contact or visit their nearest EPF branch.

Alternatively, members may call the EPF Contact Management Centre at 03-8922 6000 or forward their enquiries via the myEPF website. The fire broke out at about 11.50am on Tuesday, engulfing about 40% of the six-floor building in flames, according to the Fire and Rescue Department. No casualties have been reported so far and the blaze was brought under control.


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EPF is one of world’s most successful retirement funds


MO,12/2/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) high dividends for its two schemes in 2017 was reflective of the fund body’s well-diversified investment strategy, says CIMB Group Holdings Bhd chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz. “Malaysia’s EPF has proven to be one of the most successful retirement funds globally, and the commendable dividend rate is truly reflective of a well-diversified investment strategy.

“CIMB strongly supports EPF’s cause to make retirement a mainstream topic so that more youths can plan for it, whether through EPF or the PRS (private retirement scheme), as soon as they start working,” he said. On Saturday, EPF declared a dividend of 6.90 per cent for its conventional savings for 2017, with payout amounting to RM44.15 billion. The payout for conventional savings is the highest since 1997.

The fund also declared a 6.40 per cent dividend for its Syariah savings 2017, with payout amounting to RM3.98 billion. In total, the payout for 2017 amounts to RM48.13 billion, an increase of 29.8 per cent from 2016. EPF syariah committee member Dr Zaharuddin Abd Rahman said the slight difference of 0.5 per cent in syariah dividend by the EPF was mainly due to funds invested in by the conventional savings had yielded higher returns last year.

“Syariah savings could only be invested in only one Islamic bank, hence no such returns were garnered from the yield from the conventional investments. “Syariah-compliant stocks also experienced a downtrend in the telecommunication, oil and gas sectors in the last 18 months compared to the costs recorded when it was first purchased resulting into higher impairments.

“The 6.4 per cent dividend can be enjoyed by the contributors as it is due to its syariah compliance nature of the funds,” he added.


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‘EPF members to get higher dividends’


MO,8/2/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which has more than 14 million contributors, is expected to announce a dividend of more than six per cent for 2017, said market observers. They said the returns would be bolstered by the improvements in the performance of local and global equity markets last year. Malaysia’s largest pension fund, with investment assets valued at more than RM770 billion as at September last year, is due to announce its dividend for 2017 this month.

In 2016, EPF gave out a dividend of 5.7 per cent, lower than the 6.4 per cent in 2015 and 6.75 per cent in 2014. Jupiter Securities Sdn Bhd director Nazarry Rosli said EPF had the ability to provide a better dividend for 2017 in line with strong domestic and global market performances last year. He said investment strategies across various asset classes in some countries and markets had enabled EPF to generate better returns. Nazarry said EPF had a good track record in managing investments to ensure a competitive return every year to contributors.

“I believe EPF can provide a better dividend for 2017 on the back of strong market performances last year,” Last year, Bursa Malaysia’s benchmark index, the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI, rose 9.45 per cent or 161.28 points to end at 1,796.81 points. Market observers said as past records suggested, investments across various asset classes had enabled EPF to exceed a real dividend target of more than two per cent above the inflation rate, which stood at 3.8 per cent last year.

As at September last year, 50.45 per cent of EPF investment assets were in fixed-income instruments while overseas investments accounted for 30 per cent. Investments in money market instruments and real estate and infrastructure accounted for 3.53 per cent and 4.16 per cent, respectively. In the third quarter of 2017, EPF’s investment asset value reached RM771.20 billion, 5.48 per cent or RM40.09 billion higher than the RM731.11 billion recorded in December 2016.

During the quarter, EPF’s investment income rose 5.13 per cent to RM12.95 billion from RM12.32 billion a year ago. EPF’s investment income in the second quarter ended June 2017 increased 36.36 per cent to RM11.51 billion from RM8.44 billion for the corresponding period of the previous year.

In the first quarter ended March 2017, it recorded an investment income of RM11.79 billion, jumping 73.9 per cent from RM6.78 billion in the same quarter of 2016. As at Sept 30 last year, EPF had 17.8 million account holders, including 4.08 million dormant accounts. Asked whether the dividend amount to be announced by EPF could equal Lembaga Tabung Haji’s hibah amounting to 4.5 per cent and bonus of 1.75 per cent for the financial year 2017, Nazarry said: “It is very possible to at least match the amount.”

Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Datuk Abdul Halim Mansor was hopeful that EPF could provide a higher dividend than the 5.7 per cent announced in 2016. He said there was a high possibility that EPF would be able to provide higher dividends than TH’s hibah as the former’s investments were more extensive and bigger.


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EPF Chief This is how we solve our retirement savings problem

KUALA LUMPUR: Not too long ago, “retirement” was a good word.

It was a positive word. It was the word everyone was looking forward to associate with their lives. A word that when spoken, has people hearing the words “freedom”, “accomplishment”, “liberation” –instead of the actual word.

But today, the association is not quite that positive anymore. Not in Malaysia at least.

Last year was the first time we heard the notion that Malaysians don’t have enough savings after they retire. Some time has passed since, and the veracity of that claim has unfortunately only grown.

In August 2016, the statement was given a concrete, albeit unwelcome vindication by the nation’s top research firm, Khazanah Research Institute. Its Managing Director, Datuk Charon Mokhzani laid it bare.

“There is a concern that many will not have saved enough for a 20-year retirement and are taking on too much debt,” he said.

Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan says there's a solution to the retirement savings problem, but it's going to come at a cost. - Photo by Astro AWANI/Luqman Hariz

Charon went on to present a report by KRI that found that the average life expectancy of Malaysians has increased to 77.4 years for women and 72.5 years for men, and household savings was only 1.4% of adjusted disposable income.

Fast forward about a year, and the numbers haven’t taken a turn for the better. The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) says a person must have RM228,000 of retirement savings by age 55. But as of 2015, two-thirds of EPF members aged 54 have RM50,000 or less. This amount it says, is likely to be used up within five years of retirement.

So a week ago, when I met with EPF CEO Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan for an interview, I decided to start with just that topic.

“Today as it is, in terms of retirement benefits, we don’t adequately cover everyone in the country,” Shahril calmly confirms – somewhat incompatible with the nature of the topic in question.

He says Malaysia has a total working population of approximately 22 million people, but the EPF only actively covers about 6 million people and the government, through the pension system, another 1.7 million.

Click here to read our full interview with EPF CEO Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan on AWANI Review.

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Total contributions to EPF up 7.87 pct as at 3Q17

KUALA LUMPUR: EPF notes that quarterly operational results show upwardly figures.

Total contributions recorded in the quarter under review increased 7.87 per cent year-on-year to RM15.90 billion from RM14.74 billion in Q3 2016, bringing the total accumulated members’ contributions to RM715.97 billion (represented by the reclassified statistics of 13.7 million members).

The Age 60 Lump Sum Withdrawal saw a total of 12,811 applications approved, amounting to RM280.66 million, while the Age 60 Flexi Withdrawal recorded 29,712 approved applications amounting to RM662.05 million.

Approved applications for Age 55 Flexible Withdrawal in Q3 2017, meanwhile, decreased 48.11 per cent to 44,976 from 86,684 approved applications in the corresponding quarter in 2016.

The amount withdrawn under the scheme was RM1.80 billion, compared with RM2.53 billion in 2016 (Q2 2017: 45,723; RM1.78 billion).

Approved applications for Age 55 Lump Sum Withdrawal in the quarter under review also reduced 23.31 per cent to 36,045 (RM2 billion) from 46,999 (RM2.29 billion) in the corresponding period last year (Q2 2017: 41,914; RM2.51 billion).


Visitor traffic to the myEPF portal in Q3 2017 increased 5.19 per cent to 5.89 million from 5.60 million in the corresponding period last year.

Usage of EPF Kiosks reported a decline of 11.83 per cent from 3.29 million in Q3 2016 to 2.90 million in Q3 2017.

Usage of i-Akaun increased 33.19 per cent to 6.04 million in Q3 2017 from 4.54 million in Q3 2016. The wide array of e-services now available also attributed to the 37.29 per cent reduction in the number of visitors to EPF’s service counters nationwide from 1.25 million in Q3 2016 to 785,526 in Q3 2017.


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Less than 40 pct of EPF accounts active

KUALA LUMPUR: Data from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) show that only seven million account holders of the total 17.8 million are active accounts. That represents just 39.3 percent of the total account holders that are active.

The remainder are either non-active accounts (6.7 million) or dormant accounts (4.1 million).

These statistics arise from EPF announcing a reclassification of data involving the number of EPF members and employers. The change came into effect in the third quarter of this year.

The reclassification exercise is to distinguish between accounts with savings and those with zero savings (dormant accounts). Data on employers, meanwhile, is reclassified between those with ’employer’ status as stipulated in the EPF Act 1991 and the self-employed status.
Changes took effect in third quarter this year

The EPF’s database system will automatically update any changes to the members’ or employers’ account status. The reclassification of data does not affect contribution amount or withdrawal statistics.

In a media briefing Thursday, EPF CEO Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said, “The EPF deals with vast amount of data as the number of our members and employers have grown significantly over the past 66 years. The reclassification exercise is necessary to provide greater transparency and clarity to the status of accounts and to ensure our statistics conform to the current provision in the EPF Act.

“Starting this quarter onwards, the total number of EPF members will be based on accounts with savings only. This will later be reflected in the upcoming EPF Annual Report 2017.”

He added that all dormant accounts would remain open for members below 75 years old in order to provide them the opportunity to re-contribute to their account for their retirement well-being.

The table below shows the updated data arising from the reclassification exercise and explanation for the changes:
Reclassification started in third quarter this year

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