KUCHING: Every client of the Social Welfare Department (JKM) must have a bank account so that the assistance can be channelled directly.
Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said JKM has embarked on this system in order to facilitate distribution of assistance to its clients such as single mothers, persons with special needs (OKU) and the needy.
“Previously, we had to present the assistance in cash and this posed as a challenge for clients residing in rural areas in terms of logistics.
“Therefore, we started using this bank account system so that every month, the assistance can be channelled to the clients smoothly.
“We also used a new method of channelling the financial assistance a month in advance to assist the needy,” she said during an interview with Borneo Channel portal on Facebook live on Saturday night (Feb 27).
Fatimah also mentioned that the federal government has increased the assistance rate which was in effect from Jan 1 this year.
On assistance from the state government, she said the difference is in terms of a RM50 top-up.
“Take an unemployed OKU for instance, he or she will receive RM300 monthly from the federal government while the state government would top up another RM50 into the amount,” she said.
However, Sarawakians must also take note that there are other forms of assistance provided by the state government such as the Endowment Fund Sarawak (EFS) worth RM1,000 and post-natal care assistance (BIB) worth RM450 among others.
On food aid distribution to people affected by the implementation of movement restrictions in light of the Covid-19 situation, Fatimah said transportation poses as a challenge for JKM.
“In the context of Sarawak, the transportation of food aid distribution poses a challenge to JKM as there are areas that require us to use river transportation or a helicopter.
“Therefore, such procedure needs close cooperation with other agencies as well as the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) and its divisional and district levels,” she said.
While Sarawak recorded only one targeted lockdown period implemented in Kampung Haji Baki last year, the number of villages, longhouses, parks and housing areas being imposed with a lockdown this year have increased to 551 as of Feb 25.
Sharing her experience in wearing the personal protective equipment (PPE) during her visit to Kampung Sungai Ud in Dalat, Fatimah was able to empathise with the frontliners’ sacrifices and hardships while doing their job such as trying not to go to the toilet during their shifts.
“That is why when the government introduced special incentives and assistance to the frontliners, we must not dispute that fact because their jobs are very important, risky and essential in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and saving people’s lives,” she added.