Quick follow through needed

JOHOR BARU: The Budget 2021 announced by the Federal Government has been generally well-received by Johoreans.

However, they are calling for faster and more transparent implementation of the initiatives.

Muhammad Azrul Aziz, 29, an entrepreneur selling vegetables and sundry goods in Skudai, said the various financial schemes aimed at helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) like his were much welcomed, especially for businesses suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and implementation of movement control order (MCO).

He said traders and SMEs could benefit from the various micro-credit financing provided through financial institutions, as they take their businesses online to reach a wider market.

“My retail business is slightly affected by the pandemic but because I sell daily necessities, I do not have cash-flow problems.

“Before this, I was already using social media and delivery service platforms, so about 40% of my sales come from online orders.

“I hope the government can also help older traders to digitalise their businesses as they are less tech-savvy and stand to lose out, ” he noted.

Accounting student Rhema Seng, 20, appreciated the government’s efforts to give those aged 18 to 20 a one-off RM50 credit in their e-wallets under the eBelia Programme.

“However, I feel that the amount does not reflect the current economy and RM50 is not really enough for youths, especially those in urban areas such as Johor Baru.

“When I studied in Singapore previously, I could get a plate of chicken rice for S$2 which meant I could get 25 plates of chicken rice with S$50.

“Whereas with RM50 here, I could only get 10 plates of chicken rice in Johor Baru because of our high cost of living, ” she said, adding that she would probably use it to pay for a month’s telephone bill.

Businesswoman Jenny Chong, 46, a breast cancer survivor, said the RM10mil subsidy for cervical cancer screenings and mammograms was good news for women as early detection of cancer saved lives.

She hopes that the government can be transparent in their selection process and help women who are really in need and cannot afford to go for such screenings and tests.

“I was hoping that the government could give more focus to the needs of recovered breast cancer patients, especially women who had to remove their breast, and provide subsidy for prosthesis as it is not cheap, ” she said.

Clerk Salwana Ismail, 39, said the RM50 increase in monthly financial allowance for employed people with disabilities from RM400 to RM450 would be helpful to her 41-year-old brother, who is a slow learner.

“The allowance is enough for his personal use, as he chips in for household expenses with his minimum wage as a factory worker.

“And for myself, I will try applying for the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat next year, which will replace the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) financial aid.

“My application for BSH before this was rejected and I could not get the aid despite my appeal, ” Salwana added.

An 80-year-old retiree, who only wanted to be known as Deva, applauded the government for looking out for old folks and people with disabilities by increasing their monthly financial aid, but he hoped that the implementation of the policies would be effective.

“Effective follow-up and implementation are important to complement a good Budget.

“Being actively involved in non-governmental organisations, I have received feedback from old folks about delays in receiving their aid, sometimes as long as four months, and this impacts their means to get by, ” he added.

Unemployed PS Keristinah, 32, from Paloh, Kluang is disappointed with the lack of substantial development funds for women, especially to help them tide them over this pandemic.

“The allocations given are for generic programmes and lack the depth needed to produce digitally-forward talents who can take on the challenging global market, ” she said.

Meanwhile, housewife Marry Suwadi, 58, from Taman Perling, was unhappy that the free breakfast programme for poor primary schoolchildren (Rancangan Makanan Tambahan) was not mentioned in the budget announcement.

She runs an education centre at her home and provides meals and shelter for 14 children from Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Temon nearby.

“The incentive suddenly stopped in February this year despite the fact that we had submitted application forms for the programme twice.

“Without the programme, I have to prepare breakfast each morning for the seven primary schoolchildren under my care as well, ” she said.

Personal assistant Lee Wern Yiing, 24, gave the thumbs-up to the RM30mil allocated for the establishment of childcare centres in government buildings and RM20mil matching grants for private sector employees to set up such facilities.

“Having such facilities in the workplace will definitely encourage women to remain in the workforce, ” she noted.

Graphic designer Hafiedzul Ahmad, 26, is looking forward to the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in areas under Iskandar Malaysia, which received a portion in the RM780mil allocation for regional projects.

“The BRT has been announced a while back and I have been anticipating the public transport facility since then.

“Aside from creating job opportunities, I think it will reduce traffic congestion, which leads to lower carbon emissions and less pollution, ” he said.

SJKT Jalan Yahya Awal teacher K. Nageswary, 52, is happy that she will be receiving a special financial aid of RM600 for civil servants Grade 56 and below next year.

“The special allowance will provide us with some relief as this year has been challenging for teachers too.

“With classes being postponed because of the pandemic, we have to put more thought into online classes to keep pupils engaged and ensure that they are not left behind in their studies, ” she said.

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