Ridiculous to claim EPF in financial difficulties, says Rahman Dahlan

rahmanDahlan-epfKUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is not in any financial difficulty and it is malicious on the part of anyone to say so, Barisan Nasional strategic communications director Abdul Rahman Dahlan said today.

In slamming a joint statement by Parti Amanah Negara’s Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, PKR’s Wong Chen and DAP’s Teresa Kok claiming that EPF was in financial difficulties, Rahman said, “If it was in financial difficulties or made a loss, EPF would not be paying a dividend at all – more so a healthy 5.7% dividend for 2016.”

The opposition leaders had cited the decrease in EPF’s 2016 dividend rate of 5.7% compared with the previous year’s 6.4% as an indication that EPF was in financial difficulties. They said it was due to EPF’s investment amounting to RM1.72 billion in 1MDB.

In a statement, Rahman said, “As was answered in Parliament in May 2015, EPF’s exposure to 1MDB is RM200 million – not RM1.72 billion. This investment is in the 30-year sukuk issued in the year 2009 and is fully guaranteed by the government.

He said EPF had “exposure” of RM1.5 billion in bonds for two Independent Power Producer (IPP) plants – Panglima Power Sdn Bhd (PPSB) and Jimah Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd (JEV).

These bonds, he said, were subscribed by EPF in the year 2003 and 2005 respectively, before 1MDB was founded, and that they were backed by healthy cash flow.

“As is widely known, these two IPPs were previously acquired by 1MDB but have since been sold in a deal completed in March 2016, which was part of 1MDB’s rationalisation exercise. Hence, these two bonds are no longer associated with 1MDB.

“All three bonds are fixed income bonds that pay fixed coupons and have never been in default. EPF has not lost a single sen in them.”

Rahman noted that the EPF’s remaining RM200 million exposure to 1MDB’s government-guaranteed sukuk was just 0.027 % of EPF’s total assets of RM731 billion.

“Therefore, for the three opposition leaders to claim that EPF is in financial difficulties or that 1MDB had caused losses to EPF is wrong and malicious.

“As current or former members of Parliament, the three opposition leaders have failed in their sworn duties to be honest to the people when they made such ridiculous claims in their joint statement. They must not repeat this in future.”

Rahman described as “commendable” EPF’s 5.7% dividend for 2016, given historical dividends since 2000 and the current global economic situation and the performance of other provident funds and mutual funds in the region.

“For the nine years from 2000 to 2008, EPF had recorded an average annual dividend rate of 4.99%, whereas from 2009 to 2016, this average had increased to 6.1%.

“I am confident that with the accelerating GDP growth in the previous two quarters and the recent sharp increases in the Bursa Malaysia index, God willing, EPF will perform even better for the year 2017,” he added.