Tabung Haji announces 5% bonus

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 4): Lembaga Tabung Haji today announced an annual dividend of 5% for its depositors for 2015, amid the controversy over its dwindling reserves following revelation of a letter from Bank Negara to the haj fund.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom also announced an additional 3% as bonus for depositors who have yet to perform the Muslim pilgrimage.

For 2014, it had paid out a dividend of 6.25% for 2014 and a special bonus of 2%.

"I would like to remind depositors, their money in Tabung Haji is based on the concept of Al Wadi'ah Yad Dhamanah, under which it is fully guaranteed by the government.

"Whereas the bonus to depositors is 'hibah' or gift, based on current financial year performance and Tabung Haji's discretion.

"But I have observed that every year, depositors expect that this hibah is an obligation of Tabung Haji.

"I would like to stress again, although offering hibah is permitted, it cannot be made a permanent practice so as to avoid it becoming a habit, as stipulated in the depositors' contract based on wadi'ah," he told reporters at the Tabung Haji headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today.

The dividends would total RM3.23 billion, and would be less than the original amount allocated of RM3.53 billion, Jamil Khir added.

The minister said difference of RM300 million would be reserved in view of Bank Negara's advice and economic outlook for this year.

Jamil said the bonus payout also took into account Tabung Haji's business zakat payment of about 2.5%, or RM59.3 million, for 2015.

"The haj bonus payouts this time will benefit 8.23 million Tabung Haji depositors who have yet to perform their haj," he said, adding that the pilgrims fund had 8.85 million active depositors as of the end of 2015.

Although the cost of performing one's haj through Tabung Haji is RM9,890, he said 85% of those 8.23 million depositors, or 7.55 million people, had less than that amount in their savings accounts.

He said Tabung Haji had recorded a net profit of RM3.53 billion after zakat, compared to RM2.98 billion in 2014 — an increase by 19%.

The fund's zakat payments had also risen by 4% to RM59.26 million, compared to RM57 million in 2014.

The central bank in a letter dated Dec 23 last year had warned the pilgrimage fund of its reserve levels which were in the negative, hampering its ability to pay dividends and bonuses to depositors.

Section 22 of the Tabung Haji Act also states that the fund cannot announce dividends and bonuses to it contributors if its assets are worth less than its obligations.

Jamil Khir said Tabung Haji's distributable reserves had risen to RM593 million compared to RM293 million last year.

"Tabung Haji also spent prudently, by cutting business costs and managing costs beyond our control, which are ever-changing and increasing.

"The investment and business plans are working, the risk management is prudent and strong operation management has driven Tabung Haji to continue strengthening its financial position to ensure good yields."

The number of depositors had also risen, he added, while contributors' savings had increased four times since 2006.

"Tabung Haji raised RM59.33 million in funds before paying out the bonus for 2015 — a 9% increase compared to 2014, where we raised RM54.36 billion.

"This shows many are still confident in and loyal towards Tabung Haji," he said.