Government to provide $4.4m fund top-up

A large crowd lines up in front of the FNPF Downtown Boulevard building in Suva for the COVID-19 assistance last month. Picture: RAMA/FILE

ABOUT 20,000 Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) members who are now unemployed and have less than $35 in their general account will receive a top-up, amounting to $4.4 million from Government next week.

This was revealed by Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum who said the unemployment benefits that members were now accessing were taken out from their general accounts.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said members could only access 30 per cent of their total retirement funds and this was from their general accounts.

“The reality of the matter is the preserved funds are preserved, only general accounts has been touched.” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said some people were ignorant in terms of understanding how FNPF operated.

“General account are monies that people can actually access, so if you for example, for your educational purposes want to withdraw funds, you are allowed to withdraw that; if you want to go for overseas treatment, you are allowed to withdraw from your general account,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“So it is not touching your preserved account, it is essentially kept for your retirement purposes.”

He said the only time members could access their preserved account would be when they purchased or built their first home.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said about 87,489 applications had been received by FNPF for the first phase of COVID-19 unemployment assistance benefits.

He said about 78,590 members have been paid a total of about $49.7 million, with a total of 18,540 FNPF members receiving government assistance totalling $6.8 million.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the remaining members withdrew a total of $42.9 million from their FNPF accounts.

“Close to 4600 applications have been processed and will be paid out by the end of next week which is 29 of May 2020, marking first phase of completion for assistance in partnership with FNPF,” he added.

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