RM200 a month for the poor better than Sapura bailout, says MP

The billions of ringgit that might be used to bailout debt-ridden Sapura Energy Berhad could be better used by giving the poor with RM200 a month to stave off a looming hunger crisis, an opposition MP said today.

(FMT) – Klang MP Charles Santiago said that the government could not use lack of funds as a reason not to help the struggling B60 communities if it was willing to consider spending billions of ringgit to bailout the company.

Sapura Energy, at one time the world’s second-largest oil and gas service company, has piled up debts of RM10.3 billion and is at risk of collapse. The federal government is reported to be considering an “assistance package” and a grant for the company.

However, Santiago said the money, which could amount to billions of ringgit, would be better spent on targeted monthly cash aid for every B60 family.

“We give each poor family RM200 per month as a way for them to cope with this food supply crisis that would create a hunger crisis for them, and also the rising costs of living,” said Santiago, who is with DAP.

“I suspect that the rising cost of food prices are leading to B60 communities reducing their daily food intake to one meal per day,” he said, referring to people in the bottom 60% income group.

Fewer meals would lead to B60 children suffering from a lack of nutrition, causing declining performance in school.

Santiago also urged state governments and local councils to open up unused land for the people to grow vegetables and fast-growing crops.

Vegetable farms could also be allowed as an emergency measure on vacant but long unused privately-owned land, such as those owned by housing developers who have yet to develop the land.

The federal government could also subsidise chicken and vegetable farmers so that prices of staple foods like chicken and vegetables can be kept affordable for the B60 communities, he said.