Move to ensure smartphone rebates reach target group

KUALA LUMPUR: Rebates of RM200 for youths purchasing smartphones priced up to RM500 as announced by the government recently should not cause distress among the group.

According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the objective of the package was to help youths who were less able to access the 3G high-speed internet.

“Those who can afford phones worth RM500 and more are not the target group for this package,” said MCMC chairman Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi when announcing the package last Tuesday.

The statement clearly showed the government’s desire to ensure the rebate was given to the target group, who are youths who cannot afford to buy smartphones worth over RM500.

The fixing of a maximum price of RM500 was supported by Malaysian Youth Council president Mohamed Maliki Mohamed Rapiee, who felt that youths who could afford smartphones worth more than RM500 need not apply for the package so those who needed it could fill the RM1.5 million quota offered.

Mohamed Maliki also advised youths to learn to look at the needs of others too instead of looking at their own only.

Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) secretary-general Datuk Ma’amor Osman also agreed that the requirements set and stringent monitoring by the government will ensure the package is enjoyed by the target group.

Ma’amor added that youths also need to look at the cost incurred after owning a smarthphone such as the bill for calls and internet usage.

Announcing the rebate when tabling the 2013 Budget in September, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it was the government’s effort to give 1.5 million youths access to information with an allocation of RM300 million for this purpose.

This noble effort was used by the oppositon claiming the intiative was carried out to help various quarters to sell off the old stocks of smartphones.

However, the government remains concerned about the anxiety of the youths although it may be caused by lack of understanding regarding the initiative’s objectives and target group.

To resolve this, Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim announced that he will raise the youths’ concern regarding the package to the Cabinet on Jan 2.

Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) president Datuk N.Marimuthu said the Youth Communication Package was a form of assistance like other subsidy provided by the government.

“We need to see this smartphone rebate as a goverment subsidy and each government needs to manage their subsidies well and ensure the target group benefits from it,” he told Bernama.

He added that if the government does not put a maximum price for smartphones which can be purchased, they fear youths who can afford sophisticated smartphones will use up the RM1.5 million quota instead of those who need it most. — Bernama

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