Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Minimum rate of monthly general welfare aid revised

Tuesday June 18, 2013

KUCHING: The poor in Sarawak can find some respite from their financial burden as the State Welfare Department has revised the minimum rate of its monthly general welfare aid as well as the eligibility criteria for such assistance.
Currently, those with an income of RM830 and below are eligible for the aid and the minimum amount of the aid has been revised to RM150.
Prior to this, only those with an income of RM425 and below can apply for the aid and the minimum amount was RM60.
The maximum amount remains at RM250. This revision will be enforced beginning Aug 1.
Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah who announced this yesterday said that it was high time the state reviewed and revised the rates given the increased cost of living today.
“The last revision was in 2000 and the rates are no longer relevant,” she told a press conference.
She explained that this general aid was a safety net to the present assistance given under the Federal welfare monthly aid scheme which included assistance for children (RM100-RM450), senior citizens (RM300), allowance for disabled workers (RM300), invalid (RM300) and disable who cannot work (RM150).
She said the general aid was to help the poor and less fortunate who could not fulfil the criteria to be included in the scheme above.
“That’s why the general aid is a safety net. There are cases, for example, old folks who have not reached the age of 60 to make them eligible for the senior citizen aid. But they need help and so the general aid comes in here,” she said.
For the federal aid aside from other criteria, one had to have an income of RM830 and below to be eligible and so the state was now following this with its general aid.
Till the month of May this year, the state has a total of 10,469 recipients costing the government RM5.4mil in general aid whereas for the federal welfare aid there are 43,541 recipients with a total cost of RM59.9mil so far.
Nonetheless with the new criteria of eligibility, she believed there would be more registering for the general aid.
As such, she said this revision would require an additional allocation of RM5.7mil.
With the revision, she said the estimated expenditure would come up to RM23.7mil per year compared to the RM12mil total expenditure based on the old quantum and eligibility.
However, she said, since the welfare department receives RM18mil in allocation a year for this, it only required an additional RM5.7mil.
She said the department would also need to work relentlessly because it would need to reassess its current recipient list to check whether some had now fulfilled the criteria to be included in the federal welfare aid.
If yes, a conversion would take place.
The number of recipients for the general aid according to divisions are Kuching 1,395, Samarahan (842), Betong (1,527), Sri Aman (512), Sarikei (770), Sibu (1,986), Mukah (681), Miri (571), Limbang (561), Kapit (815), Bintulu (809).
The general aid works in three ways. If the help is for one person, then he or she shall receive the minimum amount which is RM150.
But if there are two persons in a household which requires assistance, then they would receive RM200.
For a household with more than two persons, then it will receive the maximum of RM250 per month.
Fatimah said her ministry decided on this after a lab session held in Jan.
After which, she said the findings were presented to the State Cabinet but was told to fine tune the proposal even more.
She said they did just that and re-submitted it to the cabinet last week and it was finally approved.
“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said before that we must always make sure that the assistance rendered reflects reality on the ground. This was a challenge for us and there are lots more to be done,” she said.
~ The Star

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