PETALING JAYA: BR1M payouts have been helpful to low-income groups, experts say.
“The aid is handy for eligible recipients who need the cash for short-term spending needs,” said Lee Heng Guie, executive director of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia’s Socio-Economic Research Centre.
Studies had shown that consumer spending by low-income groups increased since BR1M was implemented, he said.
“Mostly, they use the cash to buy necessities – basic items,” he said.
Lee added that the handouts were especially welcomed by people who were feeling the cost-of-living pinch.
“For the long term, the Government may consider looking into how the aid can best be utilised by the target groups,” Lee said.
He added that one way was to disburse the cash assistance for specific purposes, such as jobs and skills training.
Assoc Prof Dr Chung Tin-Fah, from HELP University, said BR1M was one measure the Government had taken to address the cost of living.
“The people have spoken out about the high cost of living, and so the Government has taken steps to address it,” he said.
He said offering BR1M to low-income groups made sense.
“Taxation worldwide has moved from being primarily income-based to consumption-based.
“As such, whether you are rich or poor, you pay the same tax rate.
“So, to offset the effects of GST, BR1M is actually beneficial to those in the lower income bracket,” he said.
Assoc Prof Dr Jeniri Amir from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak said his surveys showed that people, especially those living in rural areas, were very receptive to the BR1M scheme.
He said BR1M was one of the reasons Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had a high popularity rating of about 60% among Sarawakian voters.
“For those who do not have regular income, the amount they receive from BR1M is a lot of money,” he said, adding that it helped them with cash flow issues.
“For local voters, bread and butter issues are still the priority, so BR1M is definitely helpful for them,” he said.
In 2017, RM6.3bil in aid was given to over 7.2 million recipients under the scheme.