Putrajaya may double the RM500 cash aid distributed under its Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) programme and make it a permanent policy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has said, dangling yet another election carrot before voters as the country prepares itself to face the most heated poll contest yet.
Chinese daily Oriental Daily reported the deputy prime minister as telling a meet-the-people session in Tanjung Malim, Perak, yesterday that this could become reality should the national income and tax revenue exceed RM125 billion.
According to the daily, Muhyiddin said that BR1M would not only be given out for the second time, but possibly for a “third, fourth, fifth [time] or forever, if BN (Barisan Nasional) wins the government”.
The BN administration announced a second round of the RM500 cash handouts last year during Budget 2013, in a move that is expected to boost Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s and the ruling pact’s ratings ahead of the coming polls.
The first BR1M paid out to nearly five million families at a cost to taxpayers of RM2.6 billion earlier last year saw Najib’s approval ratings shoot up to 69 per cent, largely due to a surge among lower-income households.
But the aftermath of violence that erupted between police and demonstrators at the April 28 Bersih rally for free and fair elections saw his popularity slide to 64 per cent in June.
More than 2.3 million applications have been received for BR1M 2.0 as at December 17, with more than 1.6 million of the applications from unmarried youths and more than 720,000 from households.
Malaysians with a household income of less than RM3,000 a month are eligible for the one-off RM500 cash aid, while unmarried individuals aged 21 and above and earning not more than RM2,000 a month are eligible for a one-off RM250 aid.
BR1M 2.0 is expected to benefit 4.3 million households and 2.7 million single unmarried individuals, compared to 4.2 million people for the first BR1M last year.