BUTTERWORTH (Feb 17): The announcement of a favourable set of dividends for conventional and Shariah savings for 2018 by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) on Saturday proves that the country's economic position is healthy, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Describing the rate declared as extraordinary, he said most experts had predicted that the dividend would not exceed five per cent due to the current challenging and uncertain economic conditions.
“I feel that this is an exemplary performance, beyond the expectations of all parties. Experts had predicted that the dividend rate will not reach six per cent, to reach even five per cent would be difficult. As such this announcement is beyond expectation,
“Against a sluggish economic backdrop because of the trade war between the United States and China, Malaysia can be considered as one of the best performing economies.
“But, we have to be cautious for the country’s sustainable economic growth to continue,” he told reporters here today after attending a Chinese New Year celebration organised by the Pulau Pinang Royal Customs Department.
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) declared a 6.15 per cent dividend for conventional savings with a payout amounting of RM43 billion and 5.9 per cent dividend for shariah savings with a payout amounting to RM4.32 billion.
In total, the payout for 2018 amounted to RM47.31 billion, a marginal decrease of 1.7 per cent from 2017.
Meanwhile, commenting on former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's criticism that the dividend announced did not recognise any impairment on its equity stake in 2018 in contrast to previous years, Lim who is also Bagan Member of Parliament, said the calculation of the dividend rate was done by professionals.
"Everything Najib looks at (these days) is not right, but now that the EPF has made such an announcement (the dividend calculation handled professionally), he is questioning it.
But now, he seems to agree that this (dividend rate) exceeds expectation, he does not doubt it (anymore).
“Thank you Najib for admitting now that this is a good dividend announcement.
"But, don’t try to question the professionalism of EPF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who is well respected,” he chided Najib, adding that he could apply to become the EPF CEO if he was unhappy with the present CEO.