$189.37m to help flood victims

KOTA BARU - As the flood situation in several states becomes more critical, the Government has put in place three additional measures to assist the victims.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who cut short his holiday to check on the flood situation in Kelantan, announced an allocation of RM500mil (S$189.37mil) to help the victims cope after the disaster.

The fund, he said, would be administered by the National Se­­cu­rity Council.

Speaking to reporters at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport here after visiting flood victims at several relief centres yesterday, Najib said the BR1M payment would also be made earlier than usual.

The money, he said, would be released in mid January next year instead of at the end of the month.

"This is because the victims will face a tough time recovering and will need to pay for a lot of things," he said.

Najib had visited relief centres and observed the situation in Pasir Mas and Tanah Merah.

He was accompanied by Ke­­lantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yaakob and International, Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, also urged financial institutions and banks to restructure the loan repayments of borrowers hit by the floods.

Asked why a state of emergency was not declared for Kelantan which is the worst affected state, Najib said the decision was made due to several reasons, including the fact that once an emergency was declared, victims would not be able to make insurance claims on their losses.

"If we declare a state of emergency, the insurance company would not have any responsibility to make payments to claimants," he explained, adding that even without the declaration, the Go­­vern­ment and its agencies have been working as if they are under a state of emergency.

"All relevant agencies have been roped in to help flood victims," he said.

Najib also ordered for provisions such as food, blankets and other basic necessities to be distributed directly to victims.

Among the worst hit districts in Kelantan are Rantau Panjang, Pa­­sir Mas, Tum­pat and Tanah Merah.

Besides facing a critical shortage of food supplies and medicines, land access to the four districts have also been cut off.