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I ENJOY buying nasi lemak or kuih muih from hawkers and I notice the sellers are usually of the same age as my grandparents. I often wonder, given the choice, would they rather stay at home and play with their grandchildren or work as early as 5am to ensure their livelihood?
By 2030, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) has projected the population of Malaysians aged 60 years and above to double to 5.8 million from 2.3 million in 2020, making Malaysia an ageing society.
Retirement schemes and policies available today may not be able to fully provide for the ageing population.
If the thought of retirement has minimally crossed your mind, perhaps this will be a wake-up call.
Retirement options accessible are government pensions, provident funds such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) or other private retirement schemes, and state assistance or federal programmes under the Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (JKM), namely the Bantuan Warga Emas.
Each of these options not only come with their own downsides but also leave several groups who do not fall under the aforementioned options uncovered.
For government pensioners, monthly pensions will help sustain their lives throughout retirement.
For private sector retirees, dependency on EPF contributions for retirement is common.
Oftentimes, the EPF savings in itself are insufficient to provide a comfortable retirement to the majority of the contributing members.
EPF’s minimum savings target is currently set at RM240,000 but, as EPF operations division deputy chief executive officer Mohd Naim Daruwish reported in September 2020, 54% of contributors aged 54 have only saved less than RM50,000 for their retirement.
Needless to say, while high-income earners are able to afford a comfortable retirement. the average employee will find it challenging.
With life expectancy expected to rise in the coming years and a higher cost of living, EPF’s 2019 estimated expenses for a typical elder couple in the Klang Valley is RM3,090 monthly or RM1,545 each.
Based on this, each elderly person will need RM18,540 annually or RM185,400 for the next 10 years. A total of RM370,800 is needed for the next 20 years to ensure a comfortable retirement in the Klang Valley.
For some elderly citizens, the cost of living will be unbearable. It forces them to take on jobs during their retirement, like an elderly lady who was reportedly cleaning houses for RM5 earlier this month.
With the Covid-19 pandemic swirling around us, many have been forced to depend on government assistance.
While there have been different government assistance targeting different household income groups and individuals, those who earn slightly above the income bracket of the assistance are excluded.
Many thus have had to rely on i-Lestari, i-Sinar and i-Citra, the series of EPF’s programmes that allow contributors under 55 to withdraw money from their savings during these tough times.