Govt sees increase in zakat collections despite Covid-19


THE government will use zakat collections to help the needy weather the economic impact of the coronavirus when the moratorium on bank loans expire at the end of September.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri (picture; centre) said the government will use all channels to ensure that the collection and disbursement of zakat will be enough.

Zulkifli said the loan moratorium was made through a government policy after an agreement with lenders.

“However, from the religious aspect, we are still hoping that the huge sum of zakat collected so far can be disbursed and contributed to all issues related to the poor,” he added.

He was speaking at an event where 11 companies handed zakat totalling RM12.9 million to the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council’s Zakat Collection Centre (PPZ-MAIWP) in Putrajaya yesterday.

PPZ-MAIWP CEO Ahmad Shukri Yusoff said from January to June, the collection centre received RM357.1 million of corporate zakat compared to RM328.3 million in the same period last year, an increase of 9%. For the same six-month period the PPZ-MAIWP collected RM58.2 million in total zakat compared to RM53.7 million last year.

“Despite the Covid-19 impact and Movement Control Order (MCO), we have not yet seen a decrease in collection so far.

“We hope to maintain the figure and reach our target of RM700 million of collection to benefit the needy,” Ahmad Shukri said.

Last year, PPZ-MAIWP collected a total of RM682.3 million zakat, where RM88.2 million of it came from the corporate division.

Ahmad Shukri added that PPZ-MAIWP will closely monitor this situation, while the real impact can only be seen later this year.

Last week, news portal Free Malaysia Today reported that Lembaga Zakat Selangor (LZS) may collect a lesser amount of zakat this year, due to the wave of retrenchments as companies struggle to stay afloat in the economic crisis.

LZS’s CEO Saipolyazan M Yusop in the report was quoted as saying the body may only be able to collect less than RM800 million this year, compared to almost RM900 million in 2019.

He said this is because over 70% of the annual zakat collection comes from businesses and individuals’ income tax, while the number needing assistance has increased gradually over the years in Selangor.

LZS estimated a surge of up to 80,000 families needing assistance this year.

Socio-Economic Research Centre indicated that the unemployment rate could hit 6.5% by the end of the second quarter this year, from 5.5% in May.

Meanwhile, the statistics department stated that some 12.7 million people or 83.5% started working again as at June 2 compared to 10.2 million or 67.2% on May 7 during the Recovery MCO.

Saipolyazan said LZS may cut some of its financial assistance to cater to the growing number of people in need of financial help and to ensure no needy family gets left behind.

Ahmad Shukri said PPZ-MAIWP will further engage with corporate sectors and encourage them to fulfil their zakat responsibilities.

In the same development, Zulkifli said he will ask all agencies under his portfolio to ease the aids disbursement to the needy, in the wake of the challenging economic environment.

“This includes increasing the frequencies of meetings held by authorised committees to approve those who are qualified for the assistance,” he said.