Putrajaya to study diversifying BR1M mechanism to spur entrepreneurs

Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah speaks during a press conference regarding 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) at his office in Putrajaya January 5, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah speaks during a press conference regarding 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) at his office in Putrajaya January 5, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 5 — The government is looking into diversifying the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) to enable its recipients to start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs, Treasury Secretary-General Tan Sri Dr Irwan Serigar Abdullah said today.

In a press conference at the Finance Ministry Complex here, Irwan said that the plan is part of the government’s move to improve the cash handout mechanism to the people in order to make the programme more effective.

“We will find mechanism on how BR1M can be implemented efficiently.

“Also studying how BR1M can be used to provide training for them. Use it wisely so they can start a market (business) etc. We want to make sure before implementing,” Irwan told a press conference here, adding that this is part of the government’s ‘upwards mobility’ plan for the Bottom 40 group especially.

Irwan said that the government, as part of its promised 2017 Budget plan, is already in the midst of implementing an initiative to allow BR1M recipients who do not own cars, to use their BR1M cash as down payment to buy the latest Proton Iriz and become Uber drivers.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had in his 2017 Budget speech last year, announced a special RM4,000 rebate for BR1M recipients to purchase Proton Iriz and become Uber drivers.

“Uber drivers, for example those who work part-time, can earn over RM4,000 to RM7,000, depending on the hours they drive. This way, the government is encouraging poor citizens to come out of the B40 category,” he said, adding that the programme will be implemented this year.

Irwan also called on the people to not be “fooled” and buy into “confusing ideologies” of certain parties who criticise the annual cash handout, adding that a latest survey by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) revealed that 84.3 per cent of the public agree that BR1M must be continued.

Irwan however said that the findings will only be revealed at a later date.

He also rubbished claims by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that BR1M is a form of bribery dished out to the people, listing several other nations in the world, which also provides various forms of aid to its citizens.

“The United States (US) has for decades, implemented its food stamp programme for its people. It was officially introduced in 1964 via the Food Stamp Act and beginning 2008, this programme was known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP).

“There are also many cash handout programmes in countries like Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Hungary, Indonesia and many others, which are given under many names. Can we say all these countries are giving bribes to their citizens?” Irwan questioned.

BR1M was raised to RM1,200 for every household earning less than RM3,000 per month under the government’s 2017 federal budget.

The BR1M allocation for 2017 is RM6.8 billion, aimed at seven million households.

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