KUALA LUMPUR: The government through the Social Welfare Department (JKM) has distributed RM2.4bil in welfare assistance to 533,167 recipients nationwide throughout 2022.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the number of people seeking welfare aid had been increasing yearly and was at its peak during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
"In 2022 alone, JKM received 148,699 new applications and if this trend continues, it is going to be a great responsibility and burden on the country in the future.
"As such, we need to find the best solution in ensuring that those in need will be given help and support but at the same time, with no financial implications on the country," she said.
She said this in reply to a supplementary question from Datuk Wetrom Bahanda (KDM-Kota Marudu) on whether the government intends to increase the amount of financial assistance in accordance with the increase in the price of goods and cost of living, and the government’s action on those who will cease to receive aid based on welfare officers’ evaluation that their children are already working.
Nancy said some of the rates have already been increased as of 2021, among them aid for children, the elderly, allowance for disabled workers, those unable to work, and care assistance for the disabled or the chronically ill and bedridden.
However, she said the assistance provided by the government was a temporary measure to ease the recipients’ financial burden and enable them to cope with the demands of everyday life, not support them fully.
"Those whose financial situation and life have improved, should no longer need the assistance," she said.
In response to a supplementary question from Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Abd Muttalib (PN-Maran) on the steps taken in resolving the increasing number of welfare aid applications, Nancy said the government is committed to helping aid recipients increase their income.
Nancy added that since 2016, JKM has implemented the 2 Years Exit Programme (2YEP) to help recipients of welfare assistance towards independent living through survival skills learning and empowerment development within a period of two years.
"The aim is to increase the number of people who will no longer rely on JKM as they are free from poverty. So far, 6,500 aid recipients have participated in this programme and about 1,500 have succeeded," she said. - Bernama