‘BR1M not for luxuries’

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CYBERJAYA: As he showed off his new iPhone 6 to civil servants yesterday, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan explained that the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) cash aid would be paid out in instalments next year so that it wouldn’t be abused for luxuries like the new mobile phone.

BR1M was increased by RM300 to RM750 and RM950 for those in different low-income categories and will be paid in three instalments next year instead of a lump sum as has been the practice so far.

“A lump sum payment of RM950 instead of three instalments in January, May and September may see the rakyat buying new mobile phones like the iPhone 6,” Ahmad Maslan told about 200 civil servants at a briefing on Budget 2015 at the Inland Revenue Board headquarters in Cyberjaya yesterday.

As he said this, he took out an iPhone 6, which he said his son had ordered for him from London, where the latter had recently completed his studies.

Ahmad Maslan then repeated that the BR1M payments were enough to cover three months of the average household’s expenses.

Those with household incomes of less than RM3,000 are eligible for RM950 in cash aid, while those earning between RM3,000 and RM4,000 will receive RM750. Single individuals aged 21 and above and earning under RM2,000 will receive a one-off payment of RM350.

Ahmad Maslan said the BR1M aid would help more than seven million Malaysians next year, despite complaints by the Opposition that Budget 2015 was not people-centric enough.

“Where else in the world is there a government like the Barisan Nasional-led administration in Putrajaya which takes care of the rakyat?” Ahmad Maslan asked in his speech.

He also defended the half- month bonus for civil servants announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in Budget 2015, saying it had an ancillary effect on Chinese and Indian businesses as it would raise the spending power of civil servants.

“There are 1.52 million civil servants in Malaysia, but when you include their spouses and children, the figure comes up to between seven million and eight million.”

“That is why Putrajaya decided to give civil servants a half-month bonus, because there are so many who are dependent on civil servants’ salaries,” Ahmad Maslan said. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 15, 2014.