Allocations for infrastructure, microcredit and social programs to improve the lives of rural populations

RURAL development remains a priority for the government, with RM10.93 billion allocated to the Ministry of Rural Development under the 2023 budget, Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced on November 13.

This amount is 4% higher than the previous year.

In addition to building infrastructure, the government wants to stimulate economic development by encouraging rural people to become entrepreneurs.

“We want villagers to venture into various economic fields apart from traditional activities such as agriculture, rubber mining or small-scale fishing,” said Ismail Sabri.

“Rural entrepreneurs always have the opportunity and the space to upgrade their existing achievements to a higher level because we have the expertise, the potential and the ever-growing facilities,” he said during the mini rural entrepreneurs carnival at Dataran Kerayong in Bera, Pahang. .

Improve infrastructure

According to Professor Mohd Fazli Sabri, Dean of the Faculty of Human Ecology, it is important to ensure that the socio-cultural development of people in rural areas goes hand in hand with that of city dwellers, as this will have an impact on the well-being economy of the country. at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

“We cannot ignore the fact that there are still rural areas that lack basic amenities such as roads, housing, electricity and water supply, and internet access.

“We can see it, especially in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak, where residents still face communication problems, no street lights, dilapidated and damaged bridges and poor internet coverage. non-existent or weak,” he said.

Professor Mohd Fazli said the government should make efforts and take immediate action to ensure that people’s needs are met, as basic facilities are the basic right of every Malaysian.

To tackle the first job of improving rural infrastructure, the government has allocated RM2.55 billion in the 2023 budget. Although the budget is due to be re-tabled after GE15, it indicates what the government intends to do.

The bulk of the allocation is RM1.5 billion for rural roads, which is expected to benefit 110,000 people.

Another RM54mil is planned for “initial work” to replace 85 dilapidated and dangerous bridges.

This is followed by RM472 million for the Rural Electricity Supply Scheme (BELB).

For the village street lighting project, RM123 million has been allocated for the installation of 6,800 lighting units as well as maintenance.

Other allocations under the 2023 budget are RM381 million for the Rural Water Supply Scheme (BALB) and the Alternative Water Supply Project.

Encourage rural businesses

Associate Professor Dr Azlizan Talib from the College of Law, Government and International Studies (COLGIS), Universiti Utara Malaysia, said the government should provide support programs to help people diversify their sources of income in rural areas.

“Diversity in creating economic opportunity is necessary to overcome poverty and disparity.

“We are also aware of many potentials in rural areas that can be optimized for the benefit of the local population. These include resources for tourism, small and medium industries and micro-entrepreneurship,” he said.

He added that the government should provide the settlements of Orang Asli with the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the search for jobs.

This is in line with the rural development policy, which is based on three main principles – being sustainable, inclusive and holistic.

Felda Youth Council Chairman Muhammad Fadzli Hassan expressed hope that more people will participate in government-implemented initiatives and venture into the digital economy where they can cross borders using commerce platforms electronic.

Senior researcher at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, Dr Shankaran Nambiar, said rural communities need to be nurtured with proper business counseling and training.

Under the 2023 budget, RM1.7 billion will be allocated to Programe Semarak Niaga in the form of microcredit to small businesses. These include:

> RM950 million for micro-loans by government bank Simpanan Nasional.

> Keluarga Malaysia Hawkers Scheme will receive RM350 million, including RM150 million for bumiputras.

> RM300 million for small business loans for women and youth in the informal sector.

This will be done by Tekun Nasional, a government agency that aims to empower bumiputras to start and grow their businesses.

> RM200mil for Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Berhad (PUNB) or National Entrepreneurs Corporation, to stimulate bumiputra participation in the retail and trade sector.

> RM135mil for government agency Teraju to finance bumiputra entrepreneurs.

> RM25mil for the Indian Community Entrepreneur Development Program (SPUMI).

> RM100 million for Malaysian Indian Processing Unit (MITRA).

> RM20mil for Graduate Entrepreneurs Program (PUSH), for 1,000 graduates going into business.

To encourage more women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and improve their marketing, RM235 million has been allocated to various programs run by government agencies and banks. They are Skim Semarak-Nita BSN, Tekunita (Tekun), DanaNita Mara and Biz Lady Bank Rakyat.

According to entrepreneur Juriah Abdullah Hashim who produces Pahang sambal hitam, his sales increased from 600 to 1,000 bottles per month after promoting his product on TikTok and Facebook.

Juriah, who runs De Payrys business based in Jerantut, Pahang, is hoping to get a small loan from DanaNita Mara – Mara’s special business finance program for women. The money will be used to buy a machine to speed up production.

Social assistance benefits

The rural population will also benefit from various social benefits from the government under the 2023 budget.

Some 450,000 households will receive monthly assistance totaling RM2.5 billion from the Department of Social Welfare. This is an increase from the RM1.5bil allocated in 2022.

Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia’s cash assistance will be increased to RM2,500 for families with five or more children. Families with four or fewer children will receive between RM1,000 and RM2,000. Seniors and singles will receive between RM350 and RM600.

The 2023 budget will provide social protection in the amount of RM734mil for insurance or takaful schemes for B40 or Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia beneficiaries.

Loans of up to RM50,000 will be available for purchases from Amanah Saham Bumiputra Keluarga Malaysia for Group B40 (ASB40).

So far, the government has subsidized RM40 towards the electricity bills of the poorest households, ie those earning less than RM980 per month.

As part of the 2023 budget, the qualification level for this grant will be raised to RM1,169 to benefit more households.

Finally, to help rural dwellers, the fishermen’s cost of living allowance of RM250 per month will continue to be paid.

Apart from the 2023 budget, it should also be noted that since 2019, the government’s MySalam program has approved critical illness and hospitalization claims amounting to RM734 million for 1.5 million B40 people.

The government believes that with infrastructure grants, micro-credits to entrepreneurs and social benefits, the lives of rural people will be improved.

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