Friday, October 31, 2008

Guan Eng says workers should have say over the RM5 billion EPF money

The DAP condemned the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) today for allowing the federal government to use RM5 billion of workers' money to "rescue" certain companies listed on the Malaysian stock exchange.

Calling it a "short-sighted measure" DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng noted that EPF's agreement to the Barisan Nasional government's request without first consulting its board of trustees had caused the value of its shares to plunge by 15 per cent in the past two weeks.

"It is unacceptable that representatives from workers do not have a say on how workers' funds are invested, are forced to risk their savings to save those few companies who never remember to give back to workers when these companies reap huge profits," he said. Lim was speaking to Malaysian businessmen today while on a working trip to Seoul.

He also told them that the government had not announced any measures to help working Malaysians weather the present financial crisis, apart from "giving a miserly RM 364.2 million in tax cuts... in the 2009 Budget." He added that it worked out to only RM36 a year for each working Malaysian.

"What is RM364.2 million in tax cuts for working Malaysians compared to the RM5 billion using workers' funds to help companies?" he asked rhetorically.

"Clearly the BN government has not only got its priorities wrong helping the few instead of all, but is a short-sighted measure that confuses and equates economic policy with corporate bailouts," he said.

Lim who is also the Chief Minister of Penang reiterated his four-pronged strategy to help businesses and the poor overcome the global economic crisis. He had first brought it up during the DAP's first national Hari Raya open house celebration two weeks ago.

The DAP wants the government to progressively reduce corporate tax from the present 25 per cent to 17 per cent, to conduct a daily review of petrol prices and to reduce electricity tariffs for businesses to reflect the present change in global oil prices.

Lim also urged the government to give an annual RM6,000 "oil bonus" to households earning less than RM6,000 a month and to bachelors earning under RM3,000 a month from Petronas's profits. It works out to roughly RM500 a month.

The Bagan MP noted that it would only cause the national oil company a third of its gross profits. Last year, Petronas churned out RM107 billion in gross profit.

He estimated that the entire plan would cost RM48 billion. "A RM 48 billion economic stimulus plan that has the tidal effect of helping 27 million Malaysians has direct benefit, fairer and financially sustainable than risking RM 5 billion borrowed from EPF to fund purchases of shares of certain companies," Lim said

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