Over BND141M for assistance, pension and allowances

Azlan Othman

Over BND141 million is extended annually to 56,000 recipients of Monthly Welfare Assistance (BKB), old age pensions, monthly allowances and emergency assistance for fire, floods and landslides.

This was said by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin during budget deliberation for his ministry for financial year 2021-2022 at the 10th day of the 17th Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

BKB was BND12,359,240 to 12,509 recipients – 4,944 heads of families and 7,565 dependents in the financial year 2020-2021.

BND319,040 was spent on emergency assistance especially for fire, flood and landslide relief. Of this amount, BND280,000 is financial assistance while BND39,040 is for food rations involving more than 700 houses and over 1,000 occupants.

Some BND117,159,000 was spent on old age pensions to 39,890 recipients compared to 37,313 in the previous year. BND10,866,256 is allocated as visually-impaired pension, mental disabilities allowance, disability pension and disability allowance extended to 4,050 recipients.

The minister said to ensure that there are no loopholes, the National Welfare System (SKN) was launched on July 15, 2020 leading to increased access. A centralised database was built allowing detailed analysis of poverty gap ensuing that assistance is extended to those truly deserving it.

Some 16,458 applicants have registered in SKN. Of the total, 11,026 have applied for assistance where 6,369 were through the Community Development Department (JAPEM) and 4,657 were through Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB).

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Yang Berhormat Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

Under JAPEM, 3,539 applications were brought to the Application Evaluation Committee Meeting and 1,413 applications (40.3 per cent) were approved for financial and in-kind assistance. The 60 per cent efficiency of the application process is low, however, it is an increase from 45 per cent efficiency when SKN just started. The Ministry Client’s Charter (TPOR) for each application is processed within two months.

Meanwhile, some BND26.1 million is allocated for community development programmes including infrastructure improvements through three major initiatives – strengthening social security and protection for the needy through the Poverty Eradication Plan Programme.

The Poverty Eradication Action Plan of the National Council for Social Issues (MKIS) was approved in July 2020 and integrates whole-of-nation poverty eradication initiatives to break the poverty cycle.

The plan focusses on generating sufficient income through skills, employment and entrepreneurship to create an independent and resilient society. Throughout 2020, 873 impoverished people and people with disabilities (OKU) managed to get jobs through the cooperation of the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC) and JobCentre Brunei. This achievement exceeded the target of 500 people working as a sign of a change of mindset among the target group.

Some 350 target groups including recipients of BKB and low-income people have undergone skills and entrepreneurship training in the last three years under the community programme. The two companies are Mama’s Tailor at the Belimbing Temporary Placement Centre and Syarikat Mazroni at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium. Recently, sewing skills training was conducted for 14 women from Kampong Setia ‘A’ in Kampong Ayer.

Some 77 houses under the Housing Focus Group have been handed over to the less-fortunate through the Quick-Win Programme and the cooperation programme of Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah with the JAPEM. Some 216 families in three districts have been provided with temporary accommodation. On April 1, 2021, MCYS will receive eight additional housing units in Belait District from the Ministry of Development (MoD) for 34 family members.

Management and Financial Literacy briefings were given to new BKB recipients aimed at changing mindset with a target of 40 people per month.

Meanwhile, in terms of child welfare and protection, the National Framework nn Child Protection (NFCP) was launched in December 2020 and the first phase of the Register of Children and Young Persons in Need of Protection (RCYPP) will be completed in April 2021. Under the Child Care Centres Act , 53 childcare centres are licensed. JAPEM handled 206 vulnerable children including 50 for protection cases and 14 rehabilitation cases housed at the Welfare Home Complex (KRK). The Shelter Construction Project will be completed in November 2021 to accommodate 77 children.

The minister said 117 OKUs have been registered at JobCentre Brunei in which, 44 got jobs. The 2019 survey by JAPEM showed 75 OKUs are working in the public sector and 35 in the private sector.

Some BND75,500 was given to nine OKU associations to carry out community activities including capacity building. Facilities are also provided for the Council for the Welfare of Persons with Different Abilities (MKOKU) and four OKU associations. The OKU Association is also allocated up to BND1,000 per month for water and electricity payments starting April 2020.

Through the Elderly Issues Action Plan, the Caring for the Elderly (PMWE) programme is implemented every month on a monthly basis to residences of 119 senior citizens starting in 2020 for the provision of disposable diapers and milk, attending doctor’s appointment and the provision of pensions for those aged 100 and above. The Qaseh Amanah Warga Emas (QAWE) programme by Persatuan BERSATU involves youth to care for 55 senior citizens.

The Senior Citizen Activity Centre (PKWE) recorded 1,105 members nationwide with a target of 1,500 members this year. PKWE operates more than 300 daily programmes and activities towards healthy ageing. The Wargamas organisation reaches nearly 1,000 members and will be provided a building in May 2021.

Some BND123,925 was given to 37 associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to carry out community and welfare projects. For example, the MPK Kampong Mengkubau and TeachMeGuru have provided free extra classes to underprivileged students.

Last year is the third year of the collaboration with MCYS and the Brunei-Muara District Office in the implementation of the Knowledge Outreach Programme for 44 students from 12 villages. This year, the programme will be implemented in conjunction with the Mumtaz Programme run by TeachMeGuru by targetting 103 impoverished students including BKB and MUIB recipients from 28 villages.