PUTRAJAYA: Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah has shot down criticism that the EPF’s funds are being used to strengthen the US economy at a time when Malaysians are undergoing economic difficulties.
He said the move, announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak during his meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Sept 12, would give due returns to the fund’s contributors in Malaysia.
He said accusations by certain parties that the government wanted to help the US economy were baseless.
“It is to give the best returns to EPF account holders,” he told reporters here today.
He said the EPF had a panel that reviewed the risks, as well as prospects for the best returns posed by any investment within and outside the country.
“This is normal. The EPF panel has done its evaluation and so on. Investing like this is normal to give the best returns to account holders,” he said.
He added that the EPF had invested in the UK and the US to generate sound returns even before Najib had travelled to Washington.
“The investments had been made even before the prime minister’s visit. Account holders want high dividends, whether they are through investments within the country or overseas,” he said.
In his meeting in Washington, Najib had told Trump that the EPF wanted to invest between US$3 billion to US$4 billion (RM12.57 billion to RM16.76 billion) on US infrastructure development.
“I want to say that we came here with a strong value proposition to put on the table. We want to help you strengthen the US economy,” Najib had said.
The PM’s remarks were panned by opposition leaders, with DAP’s Teresa Kok questioning if the move was in exchange for greater investments from the US. Meanwhile PPBM’s Rais Hussin questioned how Malaysia’s economy could strengthen that of the US when it was 62.65 times smaller.
Najib had also announced at the meeting that Malaysia Airlines would buy 25 Boeing 737 jets and eight 787 Dreamliners, with another 25 737s slated for purchase in the near future. He said the deal would be worth more than US$10 billion (RM41.9 billion) in five years.
In a statement yesterday, the EPF said all investment proposals were assessed and subjected to a robust process of due diligence to protect the interests of its 14 million members.
“EPF scrutinises foreign investment opportunities that fit its risk and return profile as a retirement savings fund, in line with our long term overseas diversification programme.
“The US is one of the key markets within the EPF’s investment universe given its size and depth,” it said.
EPF also noted that as of the first quarter of 2017, the fund’s overseas investment accounted for 29% of its total investment asset and contributed 37% to the total investment income.