KUCHING: Some 55 babies born in the first week of the year have become the first recipients of the Sarawak endowment fund of RM1,000 each.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the one-off incentive, which can only be withdrawn when the child reaches 18 years of age, was meant for their further education or to help them start their career.
"This is a new approach in our social policy. I have come across cases of Sarawakian students with good results who were unable to enter university because of financial constraints.
"So, we decided that each newborn Sarawakian would receive RM1,000, regardless of race, religion or social status, so that by the time they are 18, they will have some funds to help them get started in university," he said when presenting the incentive to parents here on Wednesday (Jan 16).
The endowment fund was announced during the tabling of the state budget last November.
Abang Johari said the state government had allocated RM40mil for the fund this year, based on statistics which showed an average of 40,000 babies born in a year.
He pledged to continue giving the incentive for as long as he was the chief minister.
"We want to share the state's wealth with the people so that they will have a bright future," he said.
State Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the endowment fund would be given to every Sarawakian child born in Sarawak starting this year.
She said 1,213 babies had been born in the state as of 3pm on Jan 15.
Mother of twin girls Falisca Sanatha, 35, said she was thankful for the incentive.
"I heard about the initiative when it was announced in November. I was expecting at the time, so I was excited because my babies would receive it.
"It will come in very useful for their education in the future," she said.