KUALA LUMPUR,Nov 12: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the government should not give cash handouts to those whose incomes have not been affected by the pandemic.
Mahathir (Ind-Langkawi) said the pandemic and lockdown in March had particularly heaped pressure on the poor, with some losing their source of income altogether.
“Conversely, many people earning salaries are still getting full wages. Normally, their wages are more than enough to sustain their daily needs. And the government will give them another RM500.
“What need is there for the government to add to their earnings when their salaries are more than enough to finance their daily needs?
“Instead, the aid should be given to workers who have lost their jobs and sources of income. They can’t even pay for their daily sustenance,” he said during the debate on the 2021 budget proposals today.
Mahathir also stated his support for ministers to take a 30% pay cut, saying they still would not suffer from starvation despite the decreased wage compared to food stall operators out there.
He said the government needs to prioritise those among the people who have even been pushed to the brink of depression and suicide, saying many were suffering and feeling hopeless after losing their jobs.
While acknowledging the RM24 million allocated for mental health programmes, he called for certain expenditures to be delayed to prioritise additional funds to address issues like depression.
“These cases must be dealt with as soon as possible. Programmes to help them must be more holistic. This is where the government should spend money,” he said.