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Thursday, 9 August 2018

(The Star) Suri Incentive in honour of mum


One for the album: Dr Wan Azizah posing with EPF chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman (left) and Shahril following the launch of the annual International Social Security Conference 2018 and Suri Incentive.
One for the album: Dr Wan Azizah posing with EPF chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman (left) and Shahril following the launch of the annual International Social Security Conference 2018 and Suri Incentive.

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has dedicated her brainchild, the Suri Incentive, to her mother Datin Mariah Khamis.

The pension programme for housewives, which will see its first phase roll out on Aug 15, is a shining tribute to Dr Wan Azizah’s mother, who was a housewife.

“My mother just had a basic education but she tirelessly pushed her children to study hard for a better life. This Suri Incentive programme is my tribute to her,” she said during the launch at a hotel here yesterday.

The programme will be implemented in three phases whereby the first phase is targeted only towards eligible recipients in the e-Kasih database.

“The target group of phase one consists of married men (for their wives), single mothers, widows, divorced women, and single women registered in e-Kasih, a poverty programme for those in the bottom 40 (B40) category,” she said.

The first phase will enable members to save a minimum of RM5 monthly into their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) account, upon which the Government will chip in with a monthly contribution of RM40.

“RM20mil has been allocated by the government until the end of 2018 for this first phase,” she said.

A total of 359,065 Malaysians under e-Kasih are eligible for phase one, of which there are 221,890 housewives, 98,536 widows, 28,116 divorcees and 10,433 unmarried women.

The pension programme for housewives is initially aimed at allowing 2% to be transferred from a husband’s EPF account to cover the housewife.

However, as legislation changes needed to be made to allow for the 2% to be transferred, Dr Wan Azizah said this would be the third and final phase, and is expected to only begin in early 2020.

“To arrive at this phase will take some time as this will require amendments to be made to the EPF Act 1991.

“We are still exploring the various options for this, taking into consideration several financial and non-financial factors,” she said, adding the amendments are expected to be tabled in the next Parliament sitting.

Meanwhile, the second phase, which Dr Wan Azizah hopes to launch early next year, will see the Government’s contribution being raised to RM50.

This means that besides the normal monthly RM40 contribution to EPF, an extra RM10 will go to the Social Security Organisation (Socso).

“However, as protection under Socso is currently not extended to housewives, we need to make legislation changes to make this phase possible,” she said.

The Suri Incentive will then go on to phase three.

“EPF and Socso are also conducting studies to allow for phase two and phase three of the Suri Incentive to take off,” she said.

EPF chief executive officer Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said its branches and mobile teams would help register those eligible for phase one and make it easy for them to place their monthly contributions.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be over the counter as some are living in rural areas. We are looking at involving agent banks and even tele­communications companies,” he said.