Cash aid and skilled volunteers could help victims of flood, pandemic


CASH aid, accompanied by other forms of assistance, would tremendously help victims of the crises that have hit the country such as the floods and ongoing pandemic.

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid told The Malaysian Reserve that there is no perfect approach that could lessen the burden of the victims, but what is crucial is the timeliness of the assistance reaching targeted groups.

“I believe there is no cookie-cutter approach. Perhaps a mix of cash and other forms of aid will certainly be beneficial. What matters is how soon the assistance will reach the targeted groups.

“From my observation in social media, there are volunteers who come with specific skills especially those who can fix freezers, washing machines and others because some of the household appliances can still be fixed. Perhaps, coordinating a group of skilled volunteers could really help ease the financial burden,” he said.

The government, banks, and companies have provided assistance to the victims of both crises in many different ways.

Efforts from the government to revive the economy during the pandemic include stimulus packages for households in the lower income groups or those that could assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to create more jobs, especially when many were laid off during the period.

According to Deputy Finance Minister II Yamani Hafez Musa recently, the government had spent a total of RM156.18 billion out of the RM225 billion allocated through four aid and economic stimulus packages to restimulate the economy as of Nov 30, 2021.

As for the flood victims, the Ministry of Finance raised the Bantuan Wang Ihsan for them to RM1,000 from RM500 for each head of household at temporary evacuation centres. It is also extended to heads of households that are not moved to the shelters.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said over the weekend that the government is focusing on seeking comprehensive long-term solutions to the flood problem to reduce risks and the number of affected locations in future disasters.

The Selangor state government also distributed financial assistance of RM1,000 from the Bantuan Selangor Bangkit fund to each household affected by the floods.

Meanwhile, the most consistent assistance given by the banking institution is a deferment of loan payment.

During the pandemic, each bank provided an automatic six-month loan and financing moratorium to borrowers that were later extended to those who still need it. The moratorium is also now extended to flood victims and banks also offer replacement of banking documents damaged by the floods for free.

Mohd Afzanizam said some of the victims may already have financing facilities with the banks, so the moratorium would certainly help them redirect their monthly commitments into something more important.

“Basically, a moratorium gives them some breathing space before they can resume their payments.”

He opined it would be nearly impossible for the government to establish a monetary compensation that will satisfy each victim and the government would also need to prioritise its expenditure on basic infrastructure that may have been damaged by the recent floods.

“Each and every one of them would have a very unique figure in respect to their damages from the flood.

“It is almost impossible to establish a monetary compensation that will make everyone satisfied as the govt needs to prioritise its spending especially relating to basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges and sewerage,” he added.