PETALING JAYA: Allowing depositors to withdraw their own Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings may not be a sustainable long-term solution for the rakyat, says Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

The Finance Minister said the people should be assisted by the government, not asked to take out their own future savings to survive.

“EPF is like a pension. This will be like asking them to take their own pension before they retire,” he said when commenting on a promise by Perikatan Nasional that it would consider another round of EPF withdrawal if it wins.

“Asking them to withdraw their own savings is not a government solution,” he said.

Perikatan chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said his coalition would allow the withdrawal just as it did with the i-Lestari and i-Sinar withdrawals over the last two years at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman also poured cold water on the proposal.

“It is nice to say such things for the short term, but they are not thinking of the long-term impact on the rakyat,” said Syed Saddiq, who is defending his Muar parliamentary seat.

“This act is irresponsible,” he added.

Centre for Market Education CEO Dr Carmelo Ferlito said such “emergency measures” would risk the long-term financial stability of households and avoids discussions on how to reform the pension system and the labour market to increase savings capacity.

“The people who actually need support are probably the ones with nothing left in their account to be withdrawn.

“Insisting on this ‘emergency measures’ put at risk the long term financial stability of households and evades the discussion on how to reform the pension system and the labour market so as to increase purchasing power today and saving capacity for the future,” he said.

“We should aim at raising the level of the conversation at a higher level instead of focusing on goodies and promises,” he noted.

A cocial media user, known as Farah Sam, said the EPF saving is “your own money”.

“More accurately it is your retirement money, in case you conveniently forgot,” she said.

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also said allowing such a withdrawal was not beneficial as it was the rakyat’s own money.

“The focus should be on reviving the slowing economy, lowering prices of goods and working to increase foreign investments and solving other crippling issues such as income disparity, unemployment and poverty,” he said.