KUALA LUMPUR, 28 Feb — Lebih 30 peratus isi rumah miskin bandar yang berpendapatan kurang RM4,000 terlepas Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M).
Demikian menurut kajian agensi kanak-kanak Unicef yang menyatakan penerima mendakwa tidak tahu bantuan itu dan kurang maklumat layak atau tidak.
“Apabila ditanya adakah mereka menerima BR1M, mereka berkata sama ada tidak tahu mengenainya atau mereka tidak tahu bagaimana memohonnya,” kata Muhammed Abdul Khaled, ketua penyelidik DM Analytics.
“Tetapi ada juga kes mereka menerimanya tahun lalu  tetapi tahun ini tidak [dapat lagi].”
Badan perunding ini menjalankan kajian bagi pihak Unicef, agensi kanak-kanak Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (PBB), untuk BR1M tahun lalu.
Muhammed berkata dapatan kajiannya menunjukkan masalah yang dialami dalam pengagihan projek BR1M, ia tidak sampai kepada sasaran yang diharapkan.
“Kami juga mendapati mereka yang tidak layak menerima BR1M, dapat… Sistem agihan yang cacat menyisihkan individu memerlukan tetapi memasukkan mereka yang tidak layak,” katanya kepada Malay Mail.
Kajian Unicef mengutip keterangan hampir 1,000 isi rumah dan 2,142 kanak-kanak di projek perumahan rakyat termiskini (PPR) di sekitar ibu kota.
Kebanyakan keluarga yang ditemui berpendapatan antara RM1,000 hingga RM3,999 sebulan. Kira-kira 7 peratus berada di bawah paras kemiskinan RM1,000.
Menteri Kewangan II menjelaskan keluarga berpendapatan bawah RM4,000 sebulan memang layak mendapat BR1M.
“[Namun] ia bukan automatik tetapi mereka harus memohon,” kata Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani kepada Malay Mail.
Beliau juga tidak nampak BR1M menghadapi masalah pengagihan seperti yang ditemui dalam tinjauan Unicef yang dikeluarkan minggu ini.
Despite wide publicity, study shows low awareness about BR1M among KL’s poor
Source: The Malay Mail Online
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — More than 30 per cent of urban poor households in Malaysia’s capital earning less than RM4,000 monthly are unaware of or have not received the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) handouts, according to a Unicef study on urban child poverty released this week.
The revelation may be baffling for policymakers since the cash distribution programme is likely the most widely publicised initiative, yet up to one third of those polled by the study admitted that they had no knowledge about BR1M or if they were eligible to apply.
Households under the income bracket typically consist of working parents that make less than RM2,000 each, which the report categorised as urban poor and whom Putrajaya had recognised as those requiring state assistance.
“When we asked them (if they have) receive BR1M, they either tell us they don’t know about it or they do not know how to apply,” Muhammed Abdul Khaled, chief researcher and head economist of DM Analytics, the consultancy that conducted the study, told Malay Mail yesterday.
“But there were also cases where they said they received the previous year but did not the year after,” he added.
The testimonies again highlight the longstanding problem dogging BR1M’s distribution process, which economists like Muhammed said have in many cases resulted in the exclusion of the very recipients that the programme intends to help.
“We also found that those who are not eligible to receive BR1M, did receive it…we have a skewed distribution system that excludes the needy but also includes those who don’t,” he said.
The Unicef study collected testimonies from close to 1,000 heads of households and 2,142 children from public flats (PPR) around the capital city.
Families that earn between RM1,000 to RM3,999 make the bulk of the sample. Those that live below the official poverty line, or earning less than RM1,000, stood at seven per cent.
It is unclear as to how the knowledge about BR1M had eluded so many of these households, but the problem should prompt the government to reassess the effectiveness of the programme and rethink strategies, Muhammed said.
Minister of Finance II Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said there is no question about the demographic’s eligibility to receive BR1M or some bungle at the distribution level, but noted that they must first apply for it.
“As far as we are concerned any household that receives less than RM4k a month are entitled for BR1M. It is not automatic but they need to apply,” Johari told Malay Mail in a text response when contacted yesterday.
“I don’t think so (there are any problems at distribution). Majority of the payment is made via online bank in to the account. Since the distribution only started yesterday, you have to allow approximately one week for account to be credited,” the minister explained further.
One theory that may explain the low awareness about BR1M among them, is that most have limited or zero access to mobile internet, which makes information scarce or the application process tougher even if they had knowledge of the aid.
But Muhammed said the theory was purely speculative.
“We do not know, unfortunately. It could be that many of them cannot afford smartphones or mobile internet data and since the application must be done online, they can’t do it… but this is just assumption,” he said.
In a shocking discovery, the study found that up to one-fifth of children living in PPR flats in the city alone had stunted growth, which was higher than the national and state average.
More than one in 10 children have fewer than three meals a day, the study found. Malnourishment has led to a growing number of children with stunted growth living in the flats, which Muhammed said was already at crisis level.
Many of the parents cited low income and the absence of direct assistance as the main cause, with 97 per cent of those polled saying they could not afford to cook healthy meals for their children.
The study also found that one of every two households there admitted to having little cash to buy food in recent months, while 15 per cent of them said they experience it frequently.
Stunted growth is caused mainly by malnourishment and impairs a child’s cognitive development, making them slower or incapable of learning and clips their upward mobility.
Without intervention, there is high probability that these stunted children could grow up remaining poor and their children could suffer the same fate.
So when the study found that up to a fifth of those stunted were children aged four, researchers rang the alarm. The effects of stunting may still be reversible if the nutrition needs of a malnourished child are met before they reach two years old, but it may be too late for the 23 per cent of the children found stunted at PPR flats.
Therefore the findings should prompt more urgency for direct intervention and policies, Muhammed said.
Both he and Unicef have called for the immediate rollout of universal child care, which can come in the form of a monthly RM200 handout to all mothers with children aged two and below.
“We can do it. We have the money. If we give RM200 to all mothers with a child aged below two that would only amount up to half of total BR1M allocation,” he said, adding that there are around a million children at that age today.
A proposal that even well-to-do mothers should receive money under the programme would likely be opposed, but Muhammed said the problem with stunted growth cuts across income brackets.
“We found that even in Putrajaya, where the per capita income and education is higher, it has the fourth highest number of stunted children in the country,” he said.