BR1M should break poverty cycle, not give extra income

Ali Salman who heads IDEAS says he is supportive of cash aid as long as it is not indefinite and designed to be targeted. (Facebook pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government’s cash aid programme, previously known as 1Malaysia People’s Aid or BR1M, should be geared towards bringing its recipients out of the poverty cycle rather than helping to supplement their income, said a think tank chief.

Ali Salman, who heads the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), said he was supportive of cash aid as long as it was not indefinite and designed to be targeted.

“It becomes a problem when it is seen as being part of one’s income. In that sense, BR1M is unconditional and permanent because people receive it every year,” he told FMT at the sidelines of a forum on Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) 100 days in power yesterday.

The PH government had renamed BR1M to Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH), under which over four million people received cash aid totalling RM1.6 billion.

Ali said the cash aid should be used for specific purposes to help empower the poor, such as to upgrade their skills.

He said for example, the money could be used to take up courses to learn a skill or language.

“This is a better model,” said Ali, adding similar initiatives were carried out in other countries.

Yesterday, former prime minister Najib Razak questioned Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s plan to eventually abolish BR1M, saying it would “punish” the poor and increase the income gap between the rich and poor.

“The rich benefit more from blanket subsidies while the GST collection is more than SST because the rich consume more and pay more,” said Najib, referring to the now-abolished goods and services tax which would be replaced with the sales and services tax (SST) next month.