We prefer cash handouts, say Penang fishermen

Fishermen in Penang say it is better to credit the cash aid into their bank accounts. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: Penang fishermen prefer to receive their cost of living allowance (COLA) from the government in cash, say the Penang Fishermen’s Association.

Its chairman Nazri Ahmad said the payment of COLA in other forms could cause problems to them.

“For instance, if we buy a kilogramme of rice for RM30, there is the possibility that we will only get half a bag of rice. We are afraid there will be a lot of problems.

“If cash is given to fishermen, the money is credited straight into our bank accounts. There is that security,” he said in his speech at the association’s 33rd annual general meeting in Batu Maung, near here, today.

Also present was state agriculture and agro-based industries committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin, who later opened the meeting.

Nazri’s comments were in response to a recent statement by Afif who proposed that subsidy cards for food and other necessities be given to fishermen instead of cash handouts.

He had also proposed a smart card for fishermen who needed subsidised diesel fuel.

Afif said after the event that he took note of the views expressed by the fishermen, adding that the state government understood their difficulties.

He said he would study further the subsidy card proposal.

“However, the government also incurs cost in providing cash handouts. We need to look into this, to ensure there are no leakages.

“Yes, we need to continue extending aid to fishermen in whatever forms, but we need to make improvements to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of helping fishermen,” he said.

He said his attendance at the association’s AGM was to engage early with the fishermen to learn about their issues.

“We cannot think everything is smooth sailing. I believe the role of the government is to continue engaging with the fishermen,” he added.

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