KUALA LUMPUR - Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) will be increased from RM700 (S$269.33) to RM1,200 within the next five years to help cushion the blow of the rising cost of living.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it was possible to do so by rationalising bulk subsidy that also benefited the undeserving rich and foreigners.
He said the bulk subsidy amounting to RM24.1bil for essential items including fuel, cooking oil and flour would be rationalised in stages, and part of the savings would benefit BR1M recipients.
"We are increasing BR1M not to fish for votes. We are doing it because we are a responsible Government who want to ease the rakyat's burden," he said when launching BR1M 3.0 at SMK Aminuddin Baki in Kampung Pandan here yesterday.
This year, a total of seven million people received BR1M amounting to RM4.5bil. Some 17,000 former BR1M recipients had voluntarily informed the Government that they were no longer qualified to receive the aid, as their salary had increased above the qualifying scale.
Households earning below RM3,000 are entitled to RM650 cash and RM50 Takaful insurance scheme, while those earning between RM3,000 and RM4,000 are given RM450 cash and RM50 insurance scheme.
Singles earning less than RM3,000 with no dependants are entitled to RM300.
Apart from the RM24.1bil subsidy for essential goods, the Government also spent an additional RM1.9bil for padi subsidy and incentives as well as aid for fishermen, and another RM14bil for welfare, including aid for people with disabilities.
Najib said the quantum of BR1M would be gradually increased to RM1,200 within the next five years by rationalising the bulk subsidy.
Rationalising bulk subsidy and focusing on targeted subsidy is part of the Government's initiative to ensure subsidies are given only to the deserving.
Najib also took a swipe at Pakatan Rakyat for making populist promises that were not economically sustainable, such as reducing fuel prices (by increasing subsidy), abolishing toll charges and writing off study loans.
"We do not want to spend more than what we can afford, and kneel down to outside institutions like IMF (International Monetary Fund) to seek assistance," he said.
Likening IMF to Ah Long (notorious money lenders), Najib said they must avoid borrowing money from such bodies because they would impose conditions that would burden the people and the country.
"IMF would impose conditions such as increasing the interest rate, and calling for a cut in development expenditures.
"Increasing interest rate would burden the people as it would mean borrowers would have to service inflated housing and car loans," he said, adding that it would certainly burden the public.