i-Saraan scheme meets needs of those with no regular income

SUNGAI PETANI, Investing and saving with good investment instruments with high returns is surely the dream of every individual preparing for old age and uncertainty in life.

While there are many institutions offering such opportunities, many individuals are still looking for investment or savings instruments that are more appropriate to their socio-economic and financial position.

This is a similar situation faced by housewife Maslina Marzuki, 35, who runs a small business selling cakes. She wanted a form of savings that would allow her to make savings in a flexible manner, and at the same time, adds value to the savings for the wellbeing of her family’s future.

The mother of the four was grateful to have discovered the i-Saraan scheme, a voluntary retirement savings scheme under Employees Provident Fund (EPF) which offers the opportunity to those who do not have regular income to voluntarily contribute according to their means, and also be eligible for government contribution on their savings.

“I had heard about i-Saraan prior to this, but did not know much about its features and benefits, and assumed that as an unemployed housewife, I could not contribute…that is until I visited the 2019 Malaysian Trust Fund Week (MSAM) exhibition here.

“I visited the EPF booth and met the officer, and after I was given a briefing, I was surprised to learn that I was eligible to contribute to the scheme and to receive 15 per cent Government contributions on the amount of contribution (I made),” he told Bernama here recently.

Maslina, who is the wife of a teacher from Baling said she did not hesitate in registering herself under the scheme and intends to make consistent contributions every month.

Meanwhile, the scheme, which is also offered to self-employed individuals, caught the attention of insurance agent Tarmizie Hussain, 35.

He said the concept of contributing voluntarily in a flexible manner, and within one’s means, was apt for someone like himself.

“Previously, I had worked with an employer and my income there had compulsory EPF contribution deductions every month. But after quitting my job and becoming an insurance agent, I no longer made any contributions, and I did not know that I could contribute to i-Saraan.

“I’m looking forward to resuming my contribution under this scheme as I see EPF as an investment and savings instrument that suits me because it is safe and can avoid myself withdrawing the money earlier, like in other investment instruments,” Tarmizie said.

Zulazhar M. Nor, 39, who runs his own business selling honey, said the scheme was very beneficial and met his criteria of a savings platform that did not require rigid financial commitments.

“For the self-employed, it’s hard to commit to contributions or fixed payments every month, but we also need to secure our future, so this scheme is a great fit, and the rate of return is also quite satisfactory,” he said.

i-Saraan is a government initiative to ensure self-employed people have savings when they reach retirement age by voluntarily making payments or contributions according to their means, up to a maximum of RM60,000 per year.

Savings under the scheme shall receive an annual dividend payment credited to their account up till the member reaching age 100, and are eligible for a Government contribution of 15 per cent on the amount contributed, subject to a maximum of RM250 a year up to 2022, for members below 55 years of age.

In addition, i-Saraan members can enjoy other benefits such as tax exemption, death benefits and access to Retirement Advisory Services (RAS) free of charge.

In the meantime, Kedah and Perlis EPF chief Azmi Ismail said residents in the two states who are involved in agriculture and fishing should take advantage of the benefits under the scheme.

He said the Kedah / Perlis EPF was intensifying efforts to promote and educate the local community on the scheme despite facing geographical challenges and a lower IT literacy rate, especially among the rural population.

“We have a RAS team that is constantly on the move to meet employers and employees to contribute to EPF. We also hold briefing sessions for the rural community on the importance of contributing and the appropriate schemes for them.

“From our series of briefings, we have been able to attract people, especially those from the rural communities who have not been aware of the i-Saraan scheme and are keen to contribute towards their future well-being,” he told Bernama.

He said to date, a total of 6,657 members had registered under the scheme in the Kedah and Perlis and EPF was targeting to have 15,000 registered contributors by the end of the year.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)