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Over 21,000 from Sabah sought help over debts
Published on: Sunday, July 16, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Some 21,986 people in the State have sought help from the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) since its inception in 2006.

Its Chief Executive Officer Azzadin Ngah Tasir (pic) said of this figure, about 6,894 had applied to enrol into their Debt Management Programme (DMP).

They were part of the 590,488 individuals in the country who had attended the counselling services since its inception up to June 30 this year and from that, 188,318 customers had applied to enrol into the DMP.

Azzadin said the figure in Sabah for the programme was not very big as the individuals were mainly from big cities like Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang.

On the success rate of the programmes, Azzadin said about 80 per cent have made good on repayment of their debts.

"We are dealing with different profiles of people, we have people who have difficulty in paying their loan and as far as repayment is concerned, we have 80 per cent good repayment.

"To us it's quite good because these people are those who had difficulty in making repayment, their credit basically deteriorated because of loss of employment, sickness and so on but under the new restructuring, they are able to pay," he told a press conference after launching of the Retirement Talks with Employees Provident Fund (EPF) at Suria Sabah Mall, Saturday.

To date, more than 13,000 people have 'graduated' from the programme ever since they started it in 2006. In Sabah, probably there are about 10 per cent of them, said Azzadin.

He added that they have about 60 or 70 per cent of people aged 30 - 50 in their programme.

Meanwhile, EPF Malaysia CEO Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said the response from its members on the Retirement Advisory Services since it started about two years ago, has been very positive.

He said for this year they would be rolling out another 12 branches including in some of the smaller towns and that by 2020, the services should be available in almost all of their 70 branches throughout the country.

"The response has been very good. I think as of the end of last year, we had over 40,000 people already using the service throughout the country and the feedback from our members has been uniformly positive.

"I think a lot of people do not realise that there is a lot to learn about financial planning and saving for their retirement. So we have been doing our work not just in our branches but actually an outreach programme."

To a question on their targets of people taking part in the Retirement Advisory Services in the State, Shahril said they are sending a lot of their Sabah staff for retraining to become certified financial planner for the programme.

"We are now expanding the service to other branches in Sabah this year and what we hope is to get roughly about 5,000 to 6,000 people per year coming through our doors to get this service," he said.

"The main programme we do, actually is outreach, by working with employers and going to their premises for a talk, which we find is a bit more effective.

"We also want the employers to reach out to people who just started their working life like those in their mid-20s and those in mid-career.

"Our plan is to reach out to them earlier, in their 20s and 30s so that they get a chance to understand how to adjust their saving habit and plan from a very early age towards their retirement at 50 to 60 years of age," he said.

Shahril said that they now saw more consideration by members when it comes to the age of 55 especially for their withdrawal, given the impact of the services since it started a few years ago.

"So, instead of doing a lump sum withdrawal, most people now are opting for a Front Face Withdrawal, meaning, basically we help them to understand their spending habit and then we budget for them…they set up a standing instruction with us to withdraw only a certain money every month.

"That helps them to budget accordingly and it does not give them the temptation to spend a big sum of money, he said.

Shahril said they find it very effective and that actually, it is one of the preferred methods by members when they reach 55.

"So, we help them to structure basically a monthly payment from their EPF accounts to their bank account and they use that to budget and spend wisely.

"That gives them the assurance that there is a steady flow of monthly income for them and their post retirement and at the same time not give them a headache on what to do with their lump sum if they have no plans for it," he said. - Jo Ann Mool

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