KUALA LUMPUR (June 8): The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) posted a gross investment income of RM19.29 billion for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021 (1Q21), up 59% year-on-year (y-o-y) from RM12.16 billion in 1Q20, despite the uncertainties amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement today, the fund said it registered RM14.28 billion in equities income for the quarter, accounting for 74% of total gross investment income, while fixed income continued to contribute a stable income of RM3.92 billion.

Income from real estate and infrastructure, and money market instruments came in at RM710 million and RM380 million respectively.

Including the cost write-down on listed equities, which it said is a prudent measure to ensure its long-term portfolio remains healthy, the fund recorded a net investment income of RM19.24 billion.

“The EPF’s solid performance for the first quarter was a spillover from the global economic recovery that began in the second half of last year.

“We believe that the vaccination roll-outs as well as supportive fiscal and monetary policies worldwide will play a key role in facilitating economic activities and growth,” said EPF chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan.

He added that inflationary concerns did not derail the positive trend in equity markets, and that the fund took advantage of the opportunity to "reposition our holdings in stocks that are fundamentally strong but undervalued".

The EPF’s investment assets stood at RM981.71 billion as at end-March, with overseas investments accounting for 36% of the total, generating income of RM11.15 billion or 58% of the total gross investment income recorded, mainly driven by foreign equities.

By asset class, fixed income instruments made up 46% of investments, followed by equities (44%), money market instruments (4%), and real estate and infrastructure (6%).

The fund said its portfolio reflects its diversification strategy to optimise returns within tolerable risk limits as guided by strategic asset allocation (SAA), which had proven to be resilient in the face of any challenging market environment, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

Meanwhile, on financial relief initiatives amid the pandemic, the EPF said a total of RM57.97 billion in i-Sinar withdrawals were approved for 6.49 million applicants, of which RM50.93 billion had been disbursed.

Under the i-Lestari facility, a total of RM20.8 billion has been paid out to 5.27 million members.

“Our disciplined investment approach and robust liquidity management guided by SAA have been successful in minimising the impact of substantial disbursements on the EPF’s portfolio, allowing it to sustain a steady performance in these trying times.

“This reflects the fund’s commitment to safeguarding our members’ retirement savings by preserving and enhancing the value of those savings, while ensuring that their short-term needs are met without compromising their long-term interests,” said Amir Hamzah.

While the EPF remains cautious about the coming quarter amid downside risks of the new highly transmissible Covid-19 variants, he assured members that the EPF continuously takes the necessary measures to protect members’ savings, supported by its strong governance framework.

He added that the EPF would continue to strive to meet its mandate and strategic targets of providing members with a sustainable retirement.

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