Budget 2021 favours urban folks, says Kiput elder

Ding says the move to allow monthly RM500 withdrawal from EPF for a year will not benefit those without fixed income.

MIRI: The Federal Budget 2021 will benefit mostly urban folks who are low to medium-income earners, says a community leader.

“However, there is no immediate help for the one million rural Sarawakians who have no fixed income and who survive only based on natural resources from the forests and rivers.”

Michael Ding, a community elder of the Kiput minority ethnic group, told StarMetro there was not much to cheer about from this national budget.

“The move to allow withdrawal from the Employees Provident Fund (EFP) of RM500 per month for one year is a consolation move.

“It will provide some financial assistance to the low and medium-scale salaried workers who are living in cities and towns.

“However, how will this help the one million rural folks in Sarawak who have no fixed income?

“The rural folks till their land planting subsistence food and fish in the rivers for their daily survival.

“They have no EPF to source for money,” he said.

Ding said even the RM500 from the EPF account 1 is not enough for a big urban family.

The move to reduce income tax of one per cent for those in the RM50,000 to RM70,000 per year income group is beneficial to selected categories of salaried workers.

“Again, that tax relief is not really much.

“And this does not help those with no salaries either,” he said.

While conceding that those in the B40 group would enjoy some benefits from Budget 2021, Ding said there should have been something more specific to provide immediate financial aid to non-salaried folks.

The Kiputs are among the smallest ethnic groups in Sarawak.

Their population is only about 10,000 statewide, with the majority still living in rural Baram district in northern Sarawak.

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