Pakatan: EPF loan scheme masked to hide federal debt

(The Malaysian Insider) – akatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers accused Putrajaya today abusing monies from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to hide its current debt levels under the guise of offering a purportedly “noble” housing scheme for lower-income earners.

Slamming the move, DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar warned in a joint statement here that the scheme could throw Malaysia into a “debt-induced financial crisis” should borrowers default on their loans.

“The Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the Federal Territories Ministry must hence come clean on why it has chosen to risk workers’ retirement savings and the real reason why the government can’t fund the housing for the poor directly.

“MoF must solve its own financial problems and not for the Malaysian workers to bear the burden of the BN (Barisan Nasional) government’s follies,” they said.

Pua and Nurul Izzah, who are the MPs for Petaling Jaya Utara and Lembah Pantai respectively, explained that under normal circumstances, any welfare programme to assist the poor would be funded by the federal government through its tax revenue.

Should the monies prove insufficient, they added, the government may issue bonds to raise money to finance its deficit expenditure.

As such, the duo pointed out that Putrajaya could have issued such bonds to the EPF and still achieve its objective of helping lower-income earners secure home loans.

“It is hence extremely odd that the Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Nong Raja Zainal Abidin announced that the EPF would be extending RM1.5 billion in loans directly to those who failed to secure commercial loans to purchase their houses.

“The fact that the government could have easily circumvented the entire controversy… arouses suspicion that something is amiss,” Pua and Nurul Izzah said.