PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will resume cash handouts to low income families next month, with the first tranche of the Cost of Living Aid (BSH) - worth RM300 (US$71.86) per household - to be paid on Jan 28, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
The BSH financial aid plan is a scaled-down version of the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) scheme, which was launched during the Najib Razak administration and discontinued by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
In a statement on Wednesday (Dec 26), Mr Lim said the payouts are expected to benefit up to 4.1 million households. This will cost the government RM1.2 billion.
"Payments will be deposited directly into their bank accounts," he said.
Under the new scheme, households earning RM2,000 and below a month will receive RM1,000 next year.
Households earning between RM2,001 and RM3,000 will receive RM750, while families earning RM3,001 to RM4,000 will receive RM500.
The first payment will be disbursed according to names in the old BR1M database, Mr Lim said, adding that this means that some people who might not be eligible under the new criteria will still receive the aid.
"The process of tidying up the data must be carried out for the second and third phase payment of BSH 2019, in line with improvements to the BSH programme," Mr Lim said.
Under the BR1M, which was introduced in 2012, those with a monthly household income of RM3,000 and below received RM1,200 annually.
As for households earning between RM3,000 and RM4,000, they received RM900 annually.
In addition, individuals earning below RM2,000 were eligible for a RM450 payout.
PM MAHATHIR AGAINST CASH AID PROGRAMME
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has in the past criticised the BR1M for “spoiling” the people. He said that such policies make Malaysians dependent on the government for handouts.
“Najib spoiled the people by making them think that the government will give them money even if they don’t work,” he was reported as saying by The Star in August.
Mr Mahathir reportedly stated that he will slowly reduce the BR1M payouts before eventually stopping them.
However, the PH government later said it would proceed with BSH to ensure the well-being of the people and help ease living costs for low income families.
READ: Malaysia prepares austerity budget amid strains on fiscal deficit
FORMER PM NAJIB HITS OUT AT BSH
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, former prime minister Najib hit out at the BSH scheme, calling it a “sharp U-turn” by the current government.
Just last week, Najib took aim at the PH government on social media, through a video showing a vehicle executing a high-speed U-turn.
“These steps to expedite BR1M payments is another sign that the PH government knows that the actual state of the economy today is worse than expected,” he stated on Wednesday.
“They realise that the citizens have begun to become angry with the PH government and the state of the economy that is declining.”
Najib also noted that single people have been sidelined in the BSH scheme.
“Are there no struggling single/unmarried people? Did these single/unmarried people not vote for PH on May 9, and didn’t some also wholeheartedly fight (for them) on social media?”