Govt should increase amount of Special Covid-19 Aid, says Senator

Reuters filepix for illustration purpose only

Reuters filepix for illustration purpose only

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 18): The government should increase the Special Covid-19 Aid (BKC), which involves a maximum payment of RM1,300, as it is much lower than the national poverty line income of RM2,208 per month, the Dewan Negara was told on Monday.

Senator Datuk Mohd Hisamudin Yahaya said that as many Covid-19 cases had been reported at several People’s Housing Projects (PPR) since last year, the implementation of the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) in these areas had affected the residents’ income.

Although Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur are categorised as urban settlements, he said the impact of the economic closure had more impact on the urban community, apart from the urban poor living in PPRs and low-cost houses.

“I appeal that the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob) will consider increasing this (BKC) amount to help the urban poor post-pandemic,” he said during the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) debate session in the Senate on Monday.

The BKC is part of the National People’s Well-Being and Economic Recovery Package (PEMULIH) initiative, in addition to the additional payment to the economic stimulus package that benefits 10 million recipients comprising the hardcore poor, B40 and M40 categories, as well as qualified singles.  

Mohd Hisamudin also suggested that the government reintroduced the six-month PPR rent exemption initiative in urban areas to help this particular group.

Meanwhile, Senator Lim Hui Ying hoped that the government could implement a multi-pronged strategy and not just depend on the ceiling price mechanism related to the policy of setting ceiling prices on affordable housing in the secondary market.

She said that she was worried as the ceiling price would cause homeowners to refuse to give up their land rights until the ceiling price is increased or abolished.

“As such, to ensure access to affordable housing, there must be a multi-pronged strategy. For example, the rent-to-own mechanism that has yet to be implemented on a large scale, as well as the joint financing scheme where the government is a partner in homeownership and so on,” she said.

She said the government should also consider more high-quality rental housing schemes with low rentals as an option for those who refuse to be tied down to land ownership.

The Dewan Negara sitting continues on Wednesday (Oct 20).

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