PETALING JAYA: Cash handouts under BR1M, which has been renamed Bantuan Sara Hidup by Pakatan Harapan, will be gradually reduced before being stopped altogether, says the Prime Minister.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, admitting that it would not be a popular decision especially among the 7.2 million recipients, accused his predecessor Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of “spoiling” them.
“The people should stop depending on the government and believing that they are entitled to money without doing any work.
“Najib has spoiled the people,” he said in an interview with an online portal.
“Now, we cannot give them the money because we are not stealing money, but they still want the money,” Dr Mahathir said, adding that the people had become very dependent on the financial aid.
“Even fishermen were getting paid RM300 a month when they were not civil servants,” he said, claiming that this was simply to buy over people with “stolen money”.
In an immediate response, Najib challenged Dr Mahathir’s logic in wanting to reduce and finally cancel the cash aid.
“It is weird that the Barisan Nasional government ‘stole’ money to give it back to the rakyat.
“Fact is, funds for BR1M are not stolen funds. They came from the rationalisation of subsidies and the GST,” he said in a Facebook post yesterday.
Najib said BR1M payments were never politically motivated as the criteria of the recipients were based on monthly household income, regardless of their political leanings.
“The wealthy receive more benefits from subsidies while GST collections are more than the SST as the wealthy pay more GST due to their expenditure,” he said.
“Where is the wrong in taking money from the rich and those who evade taxes to give to the poor?”
BR1M was introduced in 2012 and the amounts were increased yearly.
This year, however, there was no increase. Households earning below RM3,000 a month will receive RM1,200, while those earning between RM3,000 and RM4,000 will receive RM900.
Single individuals earning RM2,000 and below will continue to receive RM450.
In total, RM6.8bil was allocated in this year’s budget.