PEKAN: 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) was a proposal by Bank Negara Malaysia to enable targeted subsidy to be carried out for the benefit of the people, the Prime Minister said.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak shared the background of how BR1M came to be in order to counter Opposition allegations, including the claim that it is a way of buying votes.
Speaking to a crowd of about 2,000 BR1M recipients, he said the aid was proposed by the central bank and adopted by the Barisan Nasional Government as an alternative to one-off subsidies.
“This (targeted) subsidy is better than one-off subsidy, which has many points of leakage.
“For example, the possibility of the subsidy recipients selling it at the border. Or, the person who should receive the subsidy gets relatively less compared with others.
“For example, with RON95 petrol, people with big cars benefit more (from the subsidy) than those who drive a Proton Saga or Myvi,” he said at the launch of the national-level BR1M at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Convention Hall here yesterday.
Also present were Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.
Therefore, with this targeted subsidy in mind, the Government felt it was time for a policy change that gave huge benefits to the people such as the distribution of BR1M, said Najib, who is also the Finance Minister.
He said BR1M was implemented in 2012 with aid of RM500 each given to nearly 4.1 million recipients, before the amount was increased to RM1,000 in 2016 and RM1,200 last year.
“Our promise (made) five years ago in the Barisan Nasional manifesto, that we will increase BR1M to RM1,200, was fulfilled.
“We will not make a promise if we think we cannot keep it,” he said.
Najib said that up to now, the Government has fulfilled 97.6% of promises in its last general election manifesto.
He said social media users raised questions on BR1M whenever he posted about it on Facebook and Twitter, but it cannot be denied that the aid had helped to stimulate the country’s economy.
“Whenever we get BR1M, we use it to buy essential items like rice, sugar, milk and school uniforms.
“This stimulates the domestic economy,” he said.
The Prime Minister also hit out at quarters who were only good at criticising BR1M, but did not give any suggestions on a better way to distribute the subsidy.
He said he was willing to consider any suggestion on distribution channels for the good of the people and the country.
“To say it (BR1M) is dedak (animal feed) or ‘cash is king’ is nonsense. We are a government that is concerned about the people’s welfare,” he said.
Distribution of the 2018 BR1M, involving an allocation of RM6.3bil to about seven million recipients nationwide, will be carried out in three phases.
The first disbursement will be made from today, with the second phase in June and the third in August. — Bernama