Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah
BY TANIA LAM & VOON YIH BOON

KUCHING: The Ministry of Finance (MoF) should use RM1,200 as the poverty line income (PLI) eligibility criterion for the one-off RM300 Financial Aid for Single Mothers (BKIT) scheme under the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana).

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah pointed out that the number of single mothers approved to receive BKIT was much less compared to the Financial Assistance for Children (FAC) scheme in Sarawak, the latter being monthly assistance for single mothers supporting their children.

“This is because of the different PLI used for the two schemes,” she said at a press conference here on Wednesday.

“The PLI used to determine eligibility of applicants for the monthly Financial Assistance for Children from the Welfare Department is RM1,200, while BKIT uses the older PLI of RM960,” she said.

This resulted in fewer single mothers to qualify for BKIT compared to the Financial Assistance for Children scheme, as BKIT used a lower PLI as its criterion.

Citing statistics from Sarawak Social Welfare Department, Fatimah said there were 4,461 recipients for the Financial Assistance for Children scheme. However, of the 3,443 BKIT applications received by her ministry, only 1,687 had been approved thus far.

Fatimah said that the main reason that the remaining 1,264 applications were not approved was because they did not qualify due to the PLI criteria.

“This morning, we have prepared a letter and I have also contacted the director-general of the Social Welfare Department (JKM) to raise this matter to MoF – to use the PLI of RM1,200 which we use as eligibility criterion for Financial Assistance for Children in Sarawak,” she said.

She hoped that their appeal to use the same PLI of RM1,200 for BKIT would be addressed so that more single mothers could receive assistance.

Meanwhile, she said the Financial Assistance for Children scheme was channelled to single mothers monthly until their economic circumstances changed, their children reached the age of 18, or the recipient remarried and was not a single mother anymore.

According to Fatimah, the amount disbursed was based on the number of children. “The maximum monthly amount per single mother is RM500 – which is RM450 from the federal government and RM50 topped up by the state government.”