LAWAS: Welfare Department (JKM) officers, who are on the frontline when it comes to delivery of services, must be prudent and transparent not only in reviewing the status of those eligible for welfare aid, but also in explaining to those who have been removed from the system, the rationale behind such decision.
In this respect, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan highlights the need not only for JKM to update the recipients’ eligibility for assistance, but at the same time, the evaluation officers must also take into account certain circumstances.
He says he has come across cases where the recipients complained about being cut off from the welfare aid list without any reason being given to them.
“Reviewing the status is imperative, but we must also be prudent in studying cases and explain (to those affected) the rationale behind the discontinuation of welfare aid,” he said at the presentation of Gawai-Raya goodies to recipients under JKM Sarawak’s ‘Sejambak Kasih’ programme, at Hotel Seri Malaysia here yesterday.
The department gave away RM100 cash and a hamper worth RM50 to each of 200 welfare aid recipients who would be celebrating Gawai Dayak and Hari Raya Aidilfitri next month.
Adding on, Awang Tengah said the Sarawak government had been consistent in its focus on the less-fortunate communities by topping up the sum of assistance provided by the federal government, as what had been practised since the time of former chief minister, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem.
“This is continued by his successor, the present Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who is driving the state to the next phase of development and at the same time, advocating good quality of life.
“Poverty eradication through participation in SMEs (small and medium enterprises) with seed money from federal and state government programmes, has been successful in the past, and there has been many stories about those on government’s monthly aid programme who have succeeded after receiving training and assistance,” said Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development.
In addition, he said the Sarawak government had been and would continue to be working closely with the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led federal government in areas set to benefit the people, including Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM), Tekun Nasional and other programmes.
Awang Tengah also commended Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, for her focus on women’s empowerment through courses, seminar and training programmes.
In her remarks, Fatimah said Sarawak’s ruling coalition, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), would strive to ensure that all deserving Sarawakians would be included in the welfare programme under various categories.
She pointed out that the number of aid recipients had been rising in recent years following better feedback from stakeholders such as the JKM, the community leaders, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
It is reported that JKM Sarawak channelled RM67.314 million for 56,096 monthly aid recipients, with RM3.736 million for 3,350 recipients in Limbang Division, in the first quarter of this year.
Under the ‘Sejambak Kasih’ programme, JKM Sarawak had set aside festive goodies for 31,535 and 14,811 recipients who would be celebrating Gawai Dayak and Hari Raya Aidilfitri this year, respectively.