Aid to ease Covid-19 burden


Fazila serving a customer at her stall in Macallum Street Ghaut, Penang. She says she will use the one-time aid from the telecommunication credit for better internet services. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

FAMILIES from the B40 group are grateful for the aid announced in Budget 2021 as they have been hit hard financially due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Medical sales rep Bob Yap, 35, said his household income was above RM4,000 before his wife lost her job in April this year.

“Now with a single household income of less than RM2,500 and two schoolgoing children, I welcome any form of help as it has been difficult to manage.

“Knowing that we will continue receiving aid under Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat (BPR) is a big deal.

“The RM1,800 aid will be used to pay my children’s tuition fees, rations and pocket money, ” he said when met at Macallum Street Ghaut in George Town, Penang, yesterday.

The BPR assistance package, known as Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) previously, states that those with a household income of less than RM2,500, and with a child will receive RM1,200, while those with two children or more will receive RM1,800.

Those with a household income of between RM2,501 and RM4,000, and with one child will receive RM800, while those with two children or more will receive RM1,200.

Those with a household income of between RM4,000 and RM5,001, and with one child will receive RM500, while those with two children or more will receive RM750.

Single individuals with an income of less than RM2,500 will receive RM350.

The BPR with an allocation of RM6.5bil is expected to benefit 8.1 million people.

Yap said they could no longer afford even small luxuries like eating out since the movement control order was enforced in March.

“We used to eat out at a restaurant two to three times a month. Now we no longer eat out.

“Buying food from the roadside stall once in a blue moon is considered a luxury, ” said Yap, who has two children aged nine and 12.

Yap is also grateful that he can now withdraw RM500 monthly from his Employees Provident Fund (EPF) account for a year to buy rations and on other expenses.

“Until my wife gets another job, we must manage our budget well to make sure we stay afloat.”

Food stall operator Fazila Abu Bakar, 38, said her monthly household income was around RM4,000. Her husband is a supervisor and they have three children aged four, 11 and 13.

“My business used to be better before the Covid-19 outbreak. Now business has gone down as no one comes out at night nowadays.

“The financial aid as announced in Budget 2021 will definitely help us.

“Now with online classes, we need better internet services and I usually buy a RM40 prepaid card but it is not enough for my children.

“The one-time aid from the telecommunication credit can be used for internet services. This is helpful and can save us money, ” she said.

Besides getting RM1,200 from the BPR financial package, Fazila will also benefit from the RM180 assistance per person in the form of telecommunication credit from the first quarter of 2021.

The assistance meant for eight million recipients from the B40 group can be used for internet subscription expenses or to cover part of the cost of buying a new mobile phone.

In addition, the Government has also allocated RM1.5bil to implement the Jaringan Prihatin programme aimed at reducing the financial burden of the B40 group to obtain internet facilities.

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