CORONAVIRUS | The government must not overlook those who are not Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members but are also affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, said University of Malaya senior lecturer Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub.
Tawfik, who is from the Faculty of Economics and Administration, said it is hoped that the government would launch initiatives to safeguard workers who have no EPF savings.
According to him, traders would be much affected by the spread of Covid-19 and the movement control order (MCO), so the government needs to make additional planning to assist them quickly.
“In this situation, government institutions with the financial autonomy and authority can help by giving rental exemption or speedy financial assistance to registered and licensed traders.
“Religious institutions such as zakat collection centres and mosques that have high revenue can also play a more active role in helping the small traders,” he told Bernama.
The academician said the move to allow 12 million EPF members to withdraw a maximum of RM500 a month - which is estimated to involve RM40 billion in withdrawals over a 12-month period - would allow the government to give more focus and channel a bigger budget to the country’s healthcare sector.
“This is favourable to Malaysians, especially private-sector employees, who will have extra cash in hand, which is important for household expenses amid more roadblocks being set up,” he said.
Tawfik said more allocation was previously allocated to the education sector in the country’s budget and it is hoped the healthcare sector will be raised to the same level.
“Construction of new hospitals should follow the ratio between the population and doctors. The country also requires more advanced technologies as well as additional healthcare staff in remote areas.
“By the standard of developed countries, the doctor-patient ratio should be 1:400. However, we are behind with a 1:758 ratio,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Bumiputera Remisiers Association president Nazarry Rosli said putting the extra money in the workers’ wallets through the RM500 monthly EPF withdrawal initiative can enhance the cash flow in the country’s economic system, especially in the consumer goods sector.
This is in line with the government’s efforts to revive the country’s economy which is expected to see lower growth until the third quarter of the year, he said.
Based on the latest government estimates, the gross domestic product is expected to grow at a lower rate of 3.6 percent to four percent for the year compared with an earlier projection of 4.8 percent.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today announced that EPF contributors below the age of 55 can now withdraw up to RM500 a month for 12 months from savings in their Account 2.
This i-Lestari withdrawal initiative is one of the four initiatives that were decided by the government at the Economic Action Council meeting today to ease the burdens of those affected by the current difficult situation.
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