Figure for KMKA will be determined by changes in inflation rates, prices

Rokiah Mahmud

The figure for the Minimal Cost of Basic Needs (KMKA) will be determined by changes in inflation rates and prices, instead of a fixed number.

This was highlighted by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin in response to a question on the criteria for determining the amount of KMKA on Monday.

“As previously mentioned, the Community Development Department’s (JAPEM) evaluation was not specified by KMKA, but rather a fixed amount of BND155,” he said during the press conference.

“The KMKA is based upon inflation rates, cost of items and so on. The figure does not remain fixed and will change, according to the circumstances. Currently, the KMKA is valued at BND283. As you can see, there’s a huge difference between BND155 and BND283.

“We used to determine a person’s eligibility for welfare assistance if he had less than BND155 after deducting his daily expenses, bills and so on from his monthly income.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin at the press conference on Monday. PHOTO: AZIZ IDRIS

“On the other hand, by using KMKA as practised by the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) and Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, which is currently BND283, the figure does not remain fixed and unchanging.

“Thus, any amount less than BND283 at present will render a person eligible for assistance.

“Alhamdulillah, this is a major change in the method of determining a person’s eligibility, through the use of KMKA. It will be carried out in coordination with MUIB, JAPEM and Yayasan, Insya Allah.

“The evaluation will be made in a coordinated manner. Since the National Welfare System (SKN) is using artificial intelligence, there must be a basis for the evaluation. The figures must correspond, or else there will be a disparity.

“We will also be using the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Modified Scale.

“To illustrate this, take for instance a family of four composed of a couple and their
two children. Previously, we would distribute the assistance equally among them – 1:1:1:1. With the OECD, the family head would be given 1, the wife 0.5 and the children 0.3.

“The figure used by the KMKA will be determined by the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (JPES), which is subject to changing circumstances. If it goes from BND283 to BND285 next year, we will also abide by that.”

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah explained that the SKN is intended to make it easier for people to submit applications, which can be done online or by going directly to JAPEM.

“When they apply through this method, people will at least understand that we want to help them to have enough to survive on,” he said.

“So of course, the amount will be based on the KMKA calculation, which in turn is based on the JPES observation of the cost of living to determine this number. So if by next year, should the cost of living increased, the KMKA will also increase.

“Regarding the use of the OECD Modified Scale – based on the amount of BND283, the wife of a family head will be given a percentage of it and so will the children, so as a whole, they will get proper assistance to subsist on.

“In the future, the SKN will be extended to other applications for welfare, so that all can come under one system. Under this one system, we will be able to see the country’s welfare situation as well as interpret the data to help them to get out of poverty so that they will not always rely solely on financial aid.

“This will allow the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to look at the country’s welfare situation and the steps that we need to take to help them get out of poverty.”