Nik Mohd Sollehuden, 32, who lost his monthly income after the conditional MCO began in Selangor, said the credit would be useful to help him kick-start an online food business.
“My brother and I plan to start a small food business from home and we’ll need to use the Internet regularly for promotion purposes,” he said.
The RM1.5bil Jaringan Prihatin Programme will benefit eight million people in the B40 group, who can use the credit to either get an Internet plan or subsidise the cost of a new phone.
The aid is expected to be distributed in the first quarter of 2021, said Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, adding that another RM1.5bil in benefits, including free mobile data, would also be provided by telcos.
Wan Syahrul Ezwan, 36, who is doing odd jobs at the moment, said the credit would lessen his financial burden for Internet data.
“Something like RM180 goes a long way in helping people like us who are not earning much at this time,” he said.
Non-governmental group MyPJ chairman Jeffrey Phang called it a “very much-needed” aid.
“Most of our students’ parents have to fork out extra so that their children can study online at home.
“They also need extra phones or tablets as the parents have to share their devices with their children,” he said.
As the RM180 may not be enough to get a suitable smartphone, Phang advises parents to purchase a 10in tablet instead which can be bought for around RM300.
“It’s a good start but the government should have more free WiFi hotspots as some will run out of money to reload data.
“Data is now a much-needed commodity. If easy and cheap access is denied, then the digital divide will grow, causing economic disparity,” he said.
Maxis CEO Gokhan Ogut said the telcos welcomed the initiative as it would ease the financial burden of the B40 segment.
“Collectively as an industry, we have been in discussion with the Finance Ministry to coordinate plans and will share more details once we have finalised them,” he said in a statement.
Celcom CEO Idham Nawawi said it was also working on a similar initiative with the ministry.
The government also announced a RM42mil allocation to improve Internet connectivity in 25 industrial parks while the Malaysian Communications and Multimedi Commission will set aside RM7.4bil to upgrade broadband services in 2021/2022.