Sarawak hopes to boost birth rate with RM1,000 trust fund for every newborn

Abang Johari Openg (seated fourth from left) and Fatimah Abdullah (seated fifth from right) with parents of babies who received the RM1,000 aid.

KUCHING: The Sarawak government hopes to reverse the declining birth rate with the launch of a RM1,000 trust fund for every newborn in the state from January this year.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah said the birth and fertility rate in the state is low with only around 40,000 births per year.

“We want to boost the number of births in the state,” she said after handing out financial assistance as part of the Endowment Fund Sarawak (EFS) at the Waterfront Hotel here.

A total of 1,213 babies were born and registered under the state’s National Registration Department from Jan 1-15 this year. Kuching recorded the highest number, with 498 births, she said.

The EFS happens to be one of the 65 initiatives of Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg to secure the future of every newborn in the state and to reduce the burden of parents.

Abang Johari hoped the money can be used for admission to university when the child turns 18. Further assistance will be given by Yayasan Sarawak, he added.

Abang Johari reflected on the fact that many youngsters, despite achieving excellent results in their secondary school studies, had failed to pursue higher education in the past due to poverty.

“This usually happens in our society, especially in rural areas.

“Their parents have no savings for their children’s education due to the hardships they face,” he said.

Therefore, he said the state government decided to invest in a fund every newborn Sarawakian would be eligible for, regardless of their ethnicity, religion and social status.

“The state government will allocate a total of RM40 million per year for ETS.

“The fund can only be withdrawn when the child turns 18 for their education or to start a business,” he said.