‘Govt should consider basic universal income to help B40 with rising food, education, healthcare costs’

The introduction of a basic universal income for vulnerable, lower income families will ensure that no Malaysian is left behind, as rising inflation continues to put pressure on household budgets.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations secretary-general, Datuk Paul Selvaraj, said through a government-sponsored programme, a flat monthly payment can be channelled to eligible Malaysians from the B40 group.

“We now have Menu Rahmah and the government is still giving out cash payment incentives,” he said, in the run-up to Budget 2023, which will be tabled on Feb 24.

“People do not just want cheaper food. They want to be able to pay for housing, their children’s education, and healthcare,” he said.

Selvaraj added through a basic universal income scheme, the monthly flat payment given out to the people would depend on the amount required for households to survive.

“Bank Negara has a living wage. As such, the government should use it as an indicator to determine how much is required,” he said.

In 2018, Bank Negara said that the living wage in Kuala Lumpur was RM2,700 for a single adult, RM4,500 for a couple without a child, and RM6,500 for a couple with two children.

Selvaraj said that while previous programmes like Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia, which offered cheaper goods for the lower-income group had been set up, the scheme, which ran between 2011 and 2017, eventually failed.

“When it comes to initiatives to help the people, the government should think beyond just feeding them.

“Aid must come in a package,” he said.

Selvaraj noted that while the current practice of giving out cash aid by the government was better than giving out food stamps, the government must also ensure there are no leakages to prevent manipulation.

“The government must remember that it is responsible for this vulnerable group and must ensure that they are not left behind.”

 

Main image: Federal Territories Department