Wednesday, August 09, 2006

For whatever its worth (13)

Everybody wants to save for the future. Through the EPF one is forced to save till they reach their retirement age, only to reap the benefits during their retirement days.

The EPF reinvest members contributions into various investment baskets and portfolios to generate income for its members. Members could also invest part of their savings into various unit trust schemes in the country as an option. And this practice has gone on well for several years.

Last Sunday the Prime Minister based on an unauthenticated report had voiced his concern that EPF members were alleged to have lost more than half billion investments in unit trusts involving Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors. It was indicated in the report that since 1996 when the unit trust investment scheme through EPF was introduced the amount invested through this scheme had declined from RM9.76 billion to RM9.15 billion.

As the countrys Finance Minister Dollah asserted that the government has directed the EPF to impose stricter conditions for such investments. He added the EPF must be convinced that any withdrawal meant for investment met all the stipulated conditions.

Surprisingly yesterday (as reported in todays papers) the President of the Federation of Malaysian Unit Trust Managers (FMUTM) Tunku Yaacob disputed these figures. He together with other unit trust managers recorded their displeasure over the effect of the false claims (which was partly initiated by Dollah).

According to THE STAR:

Tunku Yaacob said based on international research agency Standard and Poors (S&P) report, the average returns from Malaysian equity funds was 24% over seven years, 56% over five years and 26% over three years.

He said the hallmark of unit trusts was its mid and long-term investment strategies for investors. The S&P report indicated that the investments did deliver respectable returns over time.

What is appalling is how such shoddy statement could be made by the Finance Minister?

An inaccurate statement such as this could only trigger problems that could usurp investors confidence and create a negative picture of the unit trust industry as a whole.
If indeed such a statement is true than surely a comprehensive study has to be done before the minister concern could issue such a statement which otherwise would only cause unnecessary alarm.

I sympathize with friends in the unit trust industry especially agents who have worked hard to build up their career. An irresponsible statement such as this has surely dented their image and future.

To me this unwarranted burst by the Finance Minister who happens to also be the PM is sadly proof of the half past six quality (as highlighted by the former PM) that we have in our number one man.

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