Muis extends financial help to more families

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (centre, in white), with cleaner Abdullah Arbaa, 41; (third from left, in black), his wife (in red); and their four children. They were at a Ramadan bonus disbursement ceremony held at Muis' premises yesterday.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (centre, in white), with cleaner Abdullah Arbaa, 41; (third from left, in black), his wife (in red); and their four children. They were at a Ramadan bonus disbursement ceremony held at Muis' premises yesterday.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

About 1,000 more Muslim families will be eligible for financial assistance from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) after it announced yesterday that it will broaden its qualifying criteria.

The monthly per capita income cap will be raised from $300 to $350, while the amount of assistance to each eligible family will also be increased by $30 a month.

Currently about 5,700 families receive this help each year.

These changes take effect from next month and will cost Muis an extra $2.57 million a year in zakat funds - the annual tithe contributed by Muslims.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs and Communications and Information Minister, made the announcement at a Ramadan bonus disbursement event at Muis' premises in Braddell Road.

Speaking in Malay to about 240 people from needy families, he said Muis had reviewed the criteria and zakat assistance after taking into account increases in living costs.

Ms Muzaiyanah Hamzah, head of social development at Muis, said the criteria for zakat assistance were last adjusted about seven years ago.

Asked why it has taken so long to do it again, she said "Muis has always been very prudent", adding that sustainability of the assistance scheme was important, and that Muis also uses zakat funds to help others such as those in Islamic religious institutions.

As part of this year's disbursement, more than $1.4 million will be given to 9,729 recipients. This is 8.2 per cent more than that given last year, mainly because the Ramadan bonus has been extended to more recipients from welfare homes.

Last year, Muis collected $28.4 million in zakat contributions.

Cleaner Abdullah Arbaa, 41, was among the guests at yesterday's event.

His family of six will receive a Ramadan bonus of $600 this year.

"I'll use the bonus to buy some clothes for my children and pay off some bills," said the father of four. "I'm also very grateful for the increased amount of zakat assistance. It'll help to pay for some of the children's school expenses."

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg