Friday, November 28, 2008

I Can Now Opt For Pension Scheme

Oh, great great great news!

40,000 Civil Servants Given Option Of Pension Scheme
November 27, 2008 18:17 PM

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 27 (Bernama) -- About 40,000 more civil servants will be in the pension scheme following the government's decision to grant back that option to all those who had earlier chosen the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scheme.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the move was to enable these civil servants to enjoy the medical and other retirement benefits provided by the government.

"All this will be good for them in the long run," he said after presenting the Public Sector Quality Awards to the recipients at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, here, Thursday.

When I was a young teacher (very wet behind the ears!) attending an induction course years ago, one of the course presenters told us about the EPF and pension options. But the gist of his presentation was that EPF was the better option of the two. This, plus the fact that I was thinking of leaving the service for greener horizons, influenced me to opt for the EPF scheme. But what I didn't know was that I would lose all medical benefits once I retired. And to top it off, there would be no gratuity for me.

As time went by, it became clear that I was not leaving the service and that I wanted wanted wanted to be in the pension scheme. Whatever happened, I liked the idea of being able to go to government hospitals and paying the minimum. Even if, judging by today's economic climate, this minimum would most probably be a scary sum. I was also worried about my ability to handle and organise for myself the EPF monies I would receive.

I used to think it would be a snap. But after watching several friends and relatives retire and fritter away their EPF, I felt worried.

One friend tried to be smart and put his money in unit trusts. In the past ten years, the money has transformed from a big green mountain into a dry brown hill. He's now had to give tuition to minimise the damage to his 'hill'.

Another friend was persuaded to go into the demolition derby world of business. Apparently it was a can't-lose situation. I won't detail his current circumstances. Use your imagination.

An aunt used her EPF monies to pay for favourite relatives' pilgrimages to the Middle East. Also pilgrimages to the altar of capitalism. We have a few altars in Kota Kinabalu: Centre Point, One Borneo, Karamunsing Complex, City Mall.... Now she worships at the altar of frugality. But frugality out of necessity. There is a BIG difference between being frugal because you want to and being frugal because you have no choice.

For your information, these three examples are of very reasonable and intelligent people. However, it looks like life has a way of going its own way...and not necessarily the way we need to have it go.

I suppose the point is, if you cannot manage your money, OPT FOR THE PENSION SCHEME! So I have been brave enough to admit this to myself and will fill in that form in January.

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