Malaysia to give out $2b in cash handouts from today

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.
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.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUANTAN • Malaysia will dish out cash to seven million people from today as part of a promised financial aid plan to lower-income people this year that will cost the government RM6.3 billion (S$2.1 billion).

Malaysians who have been pre-selected will get up to RM1,200 in three payments this year in their bank accounts, the Finance Ministry's secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said last 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 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 say the first payout has been timed to sweeten the ground for the government.

This year's BR1M handouts were announced by PM Najib when he presented the 2018 Budget last October. The government has said 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 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, 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysia to give out $2b in cash handouts from today'. Print Edition | Subscribe