KOTA KINABALU – Residents in the interior of Sabah need to be guided on the benefits of contributing to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
The interior community comprises mainly of self employed farmers who only earn a small income, said Sabah Consumer Rights and Social Activist Datuk Patrick Sindu.
“This is because the income they derive from the agricultural produce that they sell at the weekly bazaar is only sufficient for their family’s needs and part of their harvest is also for their own consumption.
“They do not know the benefits of contributing for their old age and how EPF can help to increase their savings through investment,” he told Bernama.
Therefore, he said, EPF should have a programme and go to the ground regularly to explain to the interior community on the best way to plan for their old age.
“With the awareness programme, hopefully we can reduce the problem of poverty which is still prevalent in the interior.
“The financial education that EPF provides will encourage the community to be more prudent in managing their finance,” he said.
Aside from that, Patrick said, such education would make the working community more alert on their employers’ responsibility to submit their contribution to EPF.
He said education would also empower the workers to be aware if their right to EPF contribution from their employers had been neglected.
“Accrding to my own analysis and the information I received in the past, there were employers who cheated their workers saying they had already made the contributions but there were no such records at the EPF.
“Aside from the awareness programme, it would be good if enforcement officers from EPF go to the ground and conduct inspections on errant employers,” he said.
An EPF contributor, Rozie Jumat, in her 40s, who is active in socioeconomic activities in the interior said many people in the area were beginning to be aware of the importance of saving for their old age through agencies such as EPF.
“It began from word of mouth. People talk about savings withdrawal from their EPF account to pay the deposit for a home or build a house.
“The interest to know more about EPF products is already there compared to several years ago where most of those in the interior regarded EPF contributions as unimportant,” he said.
Rozie said most residents in the interior have their own land and dream about a large house to enable the family and relatives to gather.
“In the modern era, many youth leave their villages and migrate to the towns to find a better life and choose to start a family there.
“This will motivate their parents who are already aging to build a large and comfortable house for the children and grandchildren to gather during festive occasions and celebrations,” she said.
Aircraft maintenance technician Mohd Rhafie Ahmad, 37, who hailed from the interior is happy that he is contributing to EPF.
He said his savings in EPF was important for him to fulfill his dream of increasing his ‘ibadah’ and ‘amal jariah’ in his old age.
The father of two daughters said he planned upon his retirement to perform his umrah and haj and educate the Muslim community through building a tahfiz school in his village in Kampung Tetabuan in Pulau Tetabuan, Beluran.
“I am grateful to be able to provide a comfortable life for my family and with assistance from EPF through withdrawing my savings from Account Two to buy a house and invest to increase my savings.
“I believe with the savings I have in EPF, I can contribute to the development of my religion in my village after I retire,” he said. – BERNAMA