KUANTAN - Malaysia will dish out up cash to seven million people from Monday (Feb 26) as part of the promised aid to the lower income this year that will cost the government RM6.3 billion.
Malaysians who have been pre-selected will get up to RM1,200 in three payments this year in their bank accounts, said the Finance Ministry's secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah on Saturday, as reported by Bernama news agency.
"The payment will be made in three stages. For example, for those who are eligible to receive RM1,200, we will pay RM400 first and the rest will be paid in the second and third phases," Mr Irwan told reporters after an event in Kuantan, Pahang, Bernama said.
The cash handout is part of the BR1M, Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia or 1Malaysia People's Aid that was started by in 2012 by Prime Minister Najib Razak.
With the general election expected soon, critics have said the first payout has been timed to sweeten the ground for the government.
Tan Sri Irwan said Datuk Seri Najib is scheduled to launch the first phase of the payment at a ceremony in the premier's hometown of Pekan in Pahang on Monday.
This year's BR1M handouts were announced by PM Najib when he presented the 2018 Budget last October.
The government has said that the cash is targeted at the lower income to help them offset the cost of living. Malaysia has a total population of 32 million people.
The government paid a similar amount of RM6.8 billion for BR1M last year, and has told its critics that many other countries have a similar form of cash payments for its citizens.
"The money will help to reduce the burden of the cost of living of low-income earners," said Mr Irwan on Saturday, as quoted by The Star newspaper.
"It will also have a multiplier effect on the economy, as people will use the money they receive on goods and help stimulate the economy," he added.
Malaysia's opposition parties which had in 2016 rejected BR1M has since said it will continue with the payouts if it comes to power at the next general election.