KUCHING: Put simply and plainly, the RMM200 monthly allowance given to fishermen is not enough to help them make ends meet.
Recently this was pointed out quite tearfully by some Santubong fishermen who have been hit with increasing hardship as rising prices of goods lower the value of their allowances.
When Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over power in Putrajaya, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng reduced the allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry to RM4.4 billion with RM3 billion for operating expenditure and RM1.34 billion for development.
The impact caused an outcry among nearly 40,000 fishermen and 320,000 farmers in the country when the cost of living allowance (ESH) was reduced from RM300 to RM200 per month.
Fisherman Jeffery Abdul Rahman, 52, hopes that subsidies for them would continue because sometimes they don’t catch much fish, especially when the sea is rough.
During the annual general meeting of Buntal Fishermen’s Association at Sri Buntal Hall in Kampung Buntal today, he said the high prices of goods have made it difficult to bear the cost of equipment and boat repairs.
“We are facing difficulties now especially with large-scale reclamation work along our shores which impede our fishing activities.
“The RM200 allowance is appreciated, but to be honest it is not enough. Engine, boat and net repairs incur additional cost,” he said.
Fellow fisherman, Saiful Bar Idris, 55, pointed out that the price of fuel is around RM1.65 per litre, and the total cost he has to bear depends on how far or how many times he goes out to sea.
“Sometimes we cannot go out to sea due to bad weather. Even now we have to watch out because of the ongoing monsoon season,” he said.
Earning between RM600 and RM800 a month, Saiful, who has been fishing for 15 years, said petrol for his outboard engine makes up the bulk of his cost.
“Although we are using subsidised petrol and the government gives us the living allowance, honestly I say they are still not enough,” he lamented.
The fishermen hoped that the federal government would increase their allowances to RM300 each.