KUALA LUMPUR: Delays in implementing an increase in monthly assistance for the disabled led to a heated exchange in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Oct 27).
A brief war of words broke out between Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Datuk Zailah Mohd Yusoff and Teo Nie Ching (PH-Kulai) when she accused the government of reneging on its promises.
Teo said former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had announced the increase from the current amount of between RM200 and RM300 immediately in conjunction with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebration on Dec 3 last year.
"I want to ask here, when the announcement was made, the deputy minister (Zailah) who was also the same deputy minister in the same ministry, from December last year until today, has there been any effort made to implement this?"
Zailah clarified that the proposal to increase the monthly assistance for the disabled was forwarded to the Finance Ministry and "is still subject to approval based on the government's financial standing".
She noted that increasing the assistance to RM1,000 would involve a huge cost to the government, and as such, it required approval from the Finance Ministry and hinged upon the state of government finances.
However, Teo interjected, forcing Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon to step in to cool things down.
He ordered Teo to sit down, noting that the deputy minister had provided an answer.
Earlier, Zailah informed the House that as of August this year, a total of 63,184 poor families had benefited from the increase in children's aid from RM100 per child to between RM150 and a maximum of RM1,000 under Budget 2021. She said this involved an allocation of RM206.3mil.
She added that monthly assistance for the bedridden disabled and caregivers was also raised under the previous Budget from RM350 to RM500.
She said RM106.8mil was channelled to 25,835 disabled persons and caregivers as of August this year.
She also said that 83,929 unemployed disabled persons received increased monthly assistance of RM250 to RM350.
She added that RM202.5mil had been used for this purpose up to August this year.
She also said monthly assistance for the elderly was increased under Budget 2021 from RM350 to RM500.
She said 138,214 senior citizens benefited from the increase, which saw the government allocating RM559.2mil for the purpose.
Zailah noted that as of August this year, the government had spent a total of RM1.6bil for monthly assistance payments, the bulk of which was allocated to the disabled.