BR1M may be continued

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KUALA LUMPUR: The government will consider implementing another round of 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) payout if the country's revenue increases.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this during question time at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday when he was asked by Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu) whether BR1M will continue next year.

"The government's commitment with regard to BR1M is to hand out a one-off payment. However, if the country's revenue increases, we may consider continuing the aid, depending on the situation," he said.

On another supplementary question by Tiong on the government's effort to ensure that BR1M was enforced more efficiently,

Najib said the government was generally satisfied with the programme, and would conduct a post mortem to rectify weaknesses if it plans to implement it in the future.

Najib said a total of RM1.92 billion was distributed to 3.8 million or 59 per cent households in the country under the programme as at March 1.

"Up to March 1, some 4.78 million households registered for the aid. Some 3.74 million, or almost 80 per cent, were successful while 972,000, or almost 20 per cent, were unsuccessful.

"Some of the applications were unsuccessful because of numerous reasons such as overlapping applications, duplication, incomplete details or because the applicant was an income tax payer.

"Even so, of the 200,000 appeals received, almost 92 per cent were approved after the applicants submitted complete applications."

Najib also clarified that the money distributed under the BR1M programme was derived from revenue collection and not from loans as claimed by certain quarters.

"There were three stages in the implementation of BR1M. These three were form distribution and registration, checking and validation as well as distribution of payment.

"The form distribution and registration started on Dec 10, 2011 and the distribution of payment started on Jan 15 this year."

Najib said the success of the BR1M programme was due to economic strength and efficient management of the economy.

"The government always ensures prudent management of the nation's revenue collection and expenditure for the benefit of the people," he said.

On another supplementary question by Nasharudin Mat Isa (PAS-Bachok) who wanted to know why BR1M payment distribution was done through political parties and asked if the initiative was a political gimmick for the 13th general election, Najib stressed that BR1M is given out to those who are eligible regardless of their race, religion or political background.

"BR1M is delivered through the state government secretary and district officers. What is important is we don't differentiate. Whoever is eligible, we will give regardless of their political ideology. In fact, I heard that a former opposition candidate also received it," he said to loud cheers from the Barisan National MPs.

In replying to yet another supplementary question from Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) on whether the BR1M appeal period for Sabah and Sarawak, especially for those living in rural areas, can be extended, Najib said it was possible.

"We can consider extending their appeal period. We are flexible with the dates on the BR1M payment. It is important that all the people in the rural areas benefit from the programme. We will extend the period if we have to because some places in Sabah and Sarawak are remote," he said.

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