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Friday, June 22, 2018

Fishermen aid: Dr M says scrap, minister says maintain

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad appears to be at odds with Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Salahuddin Ayub over the issue of monthly government aid for fishermen.

Mahathir in an interview with Malay Mail published today, said the government intends to scrap the allowance, of between RM200 to RM300 monthly for over 57,000 fishermen.

Salahuddin at a press conference yesterday, however, assured that the government will continue giving the aid.

When contacted, Salahuddin said he was seeking a clarification on the matter from the Prime Minister's Office.

Mahathir in the interview said Putrajaya could not sustain the BN-era policy as it lacked the necessary funds.

“They can afford to give because it is stolen money. Or it is a misappropriation of government funds, to gain popularity among the fishermen.

“We cannot use government money for that, in order to be popular. We don’t have stolen money to give to them.

“So we have to cut them off. They have lost a regular income for free. Because we cannot give that, so they are not going to be happy, " he was quoted as saying during the interview conducted yesterday.

This was the opposite of what Salahuddin had told the press on the same day.

Salahuddin, in a post-cabinet press conference, said he had received complaints from some fishermen that their allowance had not been banked in.

However, he said these were isolated incidents possibly due to technical problems with one of the partner banks, and assured that the aid would not be cut.

"I wish to state that all allowances had been banked-in on June 11.

"Generally, all budget-related aid will be continued as usual... the people should not be worried that with a change of government, their cost-of-living allowances will be stopped, this will not happen," he said.

He also said that if the economy improves and national debt brought under control, there will be reviews to increase incentives for the people.

The government had been giving the monthly allowance to fishermen since 2008 to help fishermen tackle rising cost of living.

Among the requirements are that the fishermen are at sea for at least 120 days a year.

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