DECEMBER 5 — The Selangor government has received major backlash over the new state budget regarding the free water programme in 2019, particularly from the M40 group.
This was expected as they will be excluded entirely in the new programme, contrary to what Pakatan Harapan has promised the people.
Much has been said about the betrayal of the M40 group, including the recent criticism by the president of the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor, Datuk Dr Jacob George, but many do not realise yet that the real victims ironically are those within the B40 group.
Putting aside the real reason as to why this policy was formulated, i.e. whether or not it had anything to do with the takeover of Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (SPLASH), the purported intention of the new programme to provide more assistance to the B40 group itself becomes questionable, when you hear Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari’s explanation on how it is going to be implemented.
The Selangor menteri besar explained that those who wish to benefit from the programme must be registered under Putrajaya’s E-Kasih programme.
However, the E-Kasih programme is only for urban dwellers earning less than RM1,500, or rural folks earning less than RM1,000.
Currently, the Department of Statistics Malaysia classifies B40 as those earning less than RM3,000.
In other words, from the very start, the number of people who will be entitled to the programme is even smaller than what the people are being led to believe.
The problem of the misleading explanation to the people, whether being done intentionally or negligently, is just the tip of the iceberg.
As the state government, it is of utmost importance that the manner in which the policy is to be implemented is carefully thought out. As it stands, there are no indications as to how the state government is going to tackle the issue of exploitation on the eligibility of the subsidy.
For example, anyone in a family who can pass the eligibility test to be entitled for the programme can become a tenant via a simple tenancy agreement, and apply for a SYABAS account as a tenant, and enjoy the subsidy.
If the implementation of the policy is bad, the T20 group will be able to circumvent the red tape while many within the B40 group will become victims of the state government’s pursuit to save cost.
Regardless of the good intention — that the Selangor menteri besar wanted to provide more help to the B40 group — poor implementation will just have the adverse effect, similar to what the state government did with the “no plastic bag rule” that did nothing for the environment despite also being sugar coated with good intentions.
* Arvind Krishnan is a member of MIC Youth’s National Council.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.