Tar­geted sub­si­dies ful­fil needs of B40 group

The Borneo Post - - HOME - By Erda Khursyiah Basir

KUALA LUMPUR: When­ever the cost of liv­ing rises, the bot­tom 40 per cent of in­come earn­ers ( B40), whose monthly house­hold in­come fall be­low RM3,860, be­come the first to feel the pinch of hard­ship.

While ini­tia­tives out­lined in Bud­get 2019 aimed at eas­ing the cost of liv­ing for the B40 have re­ceived pos­i­tive feed­back from the pub­lic, it is hoped that the gov­ern­ment will take the nec­es­sary mea­sures to en­sure that the pro­posed sub­si­dies ben­e­fit the tar­geted groups.

Sha­zlina Shahi­dan, 41, a mem­ber of Rela ( Ja­batan Sukarelawan Malaysia or Vol­un­teers De­part­ment of Malaysia), urged the gov­ern­ment to mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ini­tia­tives tar­geted at the B40 group and screen the re­cip­i­ents as well to en­sure that only the de­serv­ing ones get them.

“The gov­ern­ment is in­deed try­ing to help peo­ple like us who are in the B40 group but it should make sure that only the de­serv­ing peo­ple ben­e­fit. For ex­am­ple, in the flats where I live, I’ve seen some peo­ple driv­ing lux­ury cars, which is strange as peo­ple like us can’t af­ford such things,” she told Ber­nama.

The gov­ern­ment should con­duct a cen­sus and go from house to house to col­lect in­for­ma­tion about ev­ery fam­ily, she said, adding that this might be a more ef­fec­tive way to iden­tify B40 fam­i­lies. Sha­zlina, who has four chil­dren aged be­tween 15 and 22, re­sides at the low­cost flats at the Batu Muda Peo­ple’s Hous­ing Project in Jalan Ipoh, here. Need more clar­i­fi­ca­tion When un­veil­ing Bud­get 2019 at the De­wan Rakyat last Fri­day, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Lim Guan Eng an­nounced, among other things, var­i­ous mea­sures to ease the cost of liv­ing for the B40 group.

He said a Cost of Liv­ing Aid or ‘ Ban­tuan Sara Hidup’ ( BSH) of RM500 to RM1,000 would be given to house­holds earn­ing be­tween RM2,000 and RM4,000 a month.

He also an­nounced an ad­di­tional BSH of RM120 per child for up to four chil­dren aged 18 and be­low, as well as for chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties with no age re­stric­tion im­posed.

Other mea­sures in­clude in­creas­ing the house­hold elec­tric­ity sub­sidy from RM20 and be­low to RM40 and be­low, and the RM100 30- day un­lim­ited Rapid bus and rail pass ef­fec­tive Jan 1 next year.

On the much- awaited fuel sub­sidy, Lim an­nounced the in­tro­duc­tion of a tar­geted petrol sub­sidy for own­ers of cars with a ca­pac­ity of 1,500cc and be­low and mo­tor­cy­cles of 125cc and be­low. Through this mech­a­nism, the gov­ern­ment will pro­vide a petrol sub­sidy of 30 sen a litre for RON95 petrol.

How­ever, the sub­sidy is lim­ited to 100 litres a month for cars and for mo­tor­cy­cles, 40 litres a month.

A to­tal of RM2 bil­lion has been al­lo­cated for the tar­geted fuel sub­sidy, which is set to be im­ple­mented in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2019.

It is ex­pected to ben­e­fit as many as four mil­lion car own­ers and 2.6 mil­lion mo­tor­cy­cle own­ers.

Peo­ple like Sha­zlina who are in the lower- in­come bracket, how­ever, need more clar­i­fi­ca­tion on the tar­geted sub­sidy con­cept, as well as how to go about ap­ply­ing for the sub­si­dies con­cerned.

“We’re or­di­nary peo­ple. Some­times we hear about some aid or other but don’t know how to ap­ply for it. It will be good if the gov­ern­ment can pro­vide clar­i­fi­ca­tion through var­i­ous chan­nels so that we don’t miss out,” she said, adding that if all sub­si­dies went to the right hands, there was a chance for B40 house­holds to im­prove their stan­dard of liv­ing. Ease the bur­den Fara Nadila Mo’min, 28, a pri­vate- sec­tor worker, said although she was a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed that the 1Malaysia Peo­ple’s Aid ( BR1M) pro­gramme has been scrapped, she was, how­ever, thank­ful that the gov­ern­ment has in­tro­duced the tar­geted fuel sub­sidy as it would help to ease the fi­nan­cial bur­den of B40 house­holds like hers.

“My work re­quires me to go around the Klang Val­ley to meet clients. The fuel sub­sidy will at least help to re­duce my costs,” she said.

Fara Nadila also wel­comed the gov­ern­ment’s move to raise the min­i­mum wage to RM1,100 be­gin­ning Jan 1, 2019.

“Since many peo­ple are find­ing it chal­leng­ing to cope with the ris­ing cost of liv­ing, I hope all com­pa­nies and agen­cies will ad­here to the new ( min­i­mum wage) rul­ing,” she added.

Housewife Nur Has­mila Has­san, 48, said although she lived in Ke­ma­man, Tereng­ganu, her fam­ily was also af­fected by the spi­ralling cost of liv­ing.

Happy that Bud­get 2019 is fo­cused on help­ing the B40 group, the mother- of­four said the sub­si­dies and ben­e­fits would en­able her chil­dren to pur­sue their stud­ies up to the ter­tiary level.

Her two older chil­dren are cur­rently study­ing at in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing while her two younger chil­dren are still at school.

“The cost of liv­ing is so high th­ese days that it is suf­fo­cat­ing us. I felt re­lieved when I heard about the BSH, tar­geted fuel sub­sidy and elec­tric­ity sub­sidy ( in Bud­get 2019),” she said, adding that she also hoped the gov­ern­ment would con­sider in­creas­ing the loan amounts given out un­der the Na­tional Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Fund Cor­po­ra­tion ( PTPTN) as it would help to re­duce the fi­nan­cial bur­den of par­ents in the B40 group. Cash­less mech­a­nism Fed­er­a­tion of Malaysian Con­sumers As­so­ci­a­tions ( FOMCA) deputy pres­i­dent Mohd Yu­sof Ab­dul Rah­man, mean­while, said the tar­geted petrol sub­sidy was not only more ra­tio­nal but would also help the gov­ern­ment to re­duce the quan­tum of sub­si­dies cur­rently be­ing given out.

“Peo­ple in the high- in­come group who own high­pow­ered lux­ury cars are the big­gest fuel users.

“The low- in­come earn­ers, on the other hand, mostly use pub­lic trans­port or mo­tor­cy­cles. Even if they own cars, it would be 1,300cc mod­els,” he said, adding that the gov­ern­ment could con­sider in­tro­duc­ing a des­ig­nated card sys­tem for the tar­geted groups for the pur­pose of im­ple­ment­ing the fuel sub­sidy.

He said should the gov­ern­ment want to ex­tend its sub­sidy pro­gramme to food, it could cre­ate a cash­less mech­a­nism to al­low the tar­geted groups to use coupons or their MyKad ( Malaysian na­tional iden­tity card) to buy food at sub­sidised rates from cer­tain premises.

Point­ing to MyKasih Foun­da­tion, a non- profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­vides all kinds of aid to the less for­tu­nate, Mohd Yu­sof said it uses MyKad to en­able peo­ple reg­is­tered with the or­gan­i­sa­tion to pro­cure RM80 worth of gro­ceries per month at se­lected re­tail out­lets.

MyKasih im­ple­ments var­i­ous food and ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes that are aimed at low- in­come fam­i­lies re­gard­less of race and re­li­gion.

One of its pro­grammes en­ables stu­dents to use their MyKad to buy food at their school can­teen or buy books and sta­tionery from their school book­shop. From B40 to M40 Be­liev­ing that con­tin­u­ous ef­forts should be made to im­prove the liv­ing stan­dards of the B40 group in or­der to el­e­vate them to the mid­dle 40 per­cent of in­come earn­ers cat­e­gory ( M40), Mohd Yu­sof said the gov­ern­ment should also con­sider in­tro­duc­ing ini­tia­tives to open up busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for them or help them to ex­pand their cur­rent busi­nesses.

To avoid du­pli­ca­tion of as­sis­tance pro­grammes tar­geted at the poor, he called for the set­ting up of a co­or­di­nat­ing body to en­sure the op­ti­mal util­i­sa­tion of all forms of aid.

Com­ment­ing on the Do­mes­tic Trade and Con­sumer Af­fairs Min­istry’s new Food Bank Malaysia pro­gramme to help feed needy peo­ple, he said some super­mar­kets have al­ready come for­ward to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gramme.

“I hope more or­gan­i­sa­tions will join such pro­grammes be­cause in the long run, it will help im­prove the liv­ing stan­dards of the peo­ple and re­duce the num­ber of house­holds in B40 group,” he added.

Asked to com­ment on a re­port by Khaz­anah Re­search In­sti­tute that house­holds earn­ing RM2,000 and less have pal­try sav­ings as they spend 94.8 per cent of their in­come ev­ery month, Mohd Yu­sof said: “This is the re­al­ity our coun­try’s low­in­come earn­ers have to face.”

He said they were the ones who were most im­pacted when­ever the prices of goods, food, trans­porta­tion and util­i­ties went up.

“This is why the gov­ern­ment must give pri­or­ity to help­ing them. They should be given op­por­tu­ni­ties to fur­ther their stud­ies or up­grade their skills so that they can get bet­ter jobs,” he said, adding that low- in­come earn­ers could also go into part- time ven­tures like op­er­at­ing food trucks and driv­ing for e- hail­ing com­pa­nies to earn some ex­tra money. — Ber­nama

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