PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong has questioned the rationale behind the free breakfast programme for all primary school pupils, saying it will likely cost the government RM1.6bil a year.
“Should the government provide free breakfast to children from well-to-do families?
"Wouldn't it be better to use the money to help farmers or build more affordable homes?” he asked in a post on his official Facebook account on Tuesday (Aug 27).
The MCA president said according to his calculations, the programme would set the government back by some RM1.6bil assuming each meal cost RM3 with there being 200 schooling days in a year and some 2.7 million pupils in government primary schools.
He added that students had their own eating habits and some ate breakfast before going to school.
“So how will this programme be suitable and practical for every child?" he questioned.
It was reported on Monday (Aug 26) that all primary schoolchildren would be provided with free breakfast on every schooling day beginning January next year.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik first made the announcement on his Facebook account, saying the ministry cared about the diet of pupils and wanted to ensure that they had access to nutritious food.
The free breakfast programme, he added, was in addition to the ministry's Supplementary Food Programme (Rancangan Makanan Tambahan/RMT) for students from hardcore poor families.
Dr Wee said the RMT programme had benefitted 489,117 pupils in 2018 at a cost of RM289mil.
“If the Pakatan Harapan government is upping the allocation to benefit schoolchildren from middle income families, there is nothing to be said against it. But is it really necessary to extend this to all 2.7 million schoolchildren," added the Ayer Hitam MP.
He said ever since Pakatan Harapan took over the government, the debt figure had increased to RM1tril.
“As the country’s burden gets heavier, should the government keep spending?” he asked.
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