KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 ― Malaysians can skip receiving cash aid under the federal government's 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) programme if they do not like such a move, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
Najib said BR1M is still in demand and well accepted by the public, relating his recent visit to an Inland Revenue Board branch in Seremban, where he said many were there not to pay tax, but to check if their names were listed in the BR1M recipients list.
“Furthermore we have done surveys and many people like BR1M. Furthermore, if you don't want BR1M, don't take BR1M.
“If you don't like BR1M, if you criticise BR1M, don't take BR1M,” he said in an interview broadcasted on television channels nationwide tonight.
Najib said there is nothing wrong with giving out targeted subsidies in the form of BR1M to directly help those who are needy, noting that the federal Opposition dishes out similar assistance in the states they govern.
“So what is wrong? There's nothing wrong. We also give welfare aid, even the state governments under the Opposition also gives such financial assistance although the amount is far smaller but the principle is the same,” he said.
He explained the government's previous blanket subsidies for fuel has been scrapped as it tend to benefit those with bigger cars, with savings channelled to the BR1M programme.
In the same interview, Najib said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) collected by the government is necessary to sustain the nation's expenses, such as to fund BR1M, spending on health and education, as well as assistance to paddy planters and fishermen.
When tabling Budget 2018 last year, Najib had said that the government would be allocating RM6.8 billion this year for the BR1M programme with a maximum amount of RM1,200 in aid to be given to recipients.
Started in 2012 as a one-off cash aid to families earning below RM3,000 monthly, the BR1M scheme has been extended to cover single individuals aged over 21 years old and earning below RM2,000, as well as households with monthly income of between RM3,000 and RM4,000.