PUTRAJAYA 12 AUGUST 2015. Timbalan Menteri Kewangan II, Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani. NSTP/Ahmad Irham Mohd Noor.

KUALA LUMPUR – The government is in discussions with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to allow first-time house buyers to withdraw more funds from their EPF savings to purchase affordable homes.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said the government wants to ensure such buyers are able to bridge the gap between their financing and the house price.

“It will not be a blanket increase (of funds that can be withdrawn from EPF) but we are looking at a specific percentage. We can explore how EPF can allow some of these contributors to use part of their money to (help them) pay instalments for their first homes,” he told reporters at a National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia roundtable session here today.

“This has to be in the category of affordable homes and not high-end houses,” Johari added.

He said a recent suggestion to increase the distribution of funds to Account Two, which can be drawn down, is “timely” as it would allow contributors to tap into more of their savings to buy their first home.

Mah Sing Group Bhd had suggested the government revise the percentage of funds for EPF accounts. Currently, 70% of contributions go into Account One, while Account Two receives 30%.

Mah Sing opined that contributions to Account Two could be increased to 40% instead, so that contributors can have more funds to pay for the downpayment of their property, reduce housing loans and/or pay monthly housing loan instalments.

“Maybe we need to explore some flexibility. We are trying to discuss it with EPF … we haven’t come up with solutions yet,” said Johari.

He said at a later stage when the house buyer decides to sell the house, proceeds from the sale should be returned to EPF.

“Just like unit trust, you can take the money from EPF to invest in it. But once you sell your units, you have to put back your proceeds into EPF,” he added.

– Sundaily