RM700mil Sara funds to reduce financial strain

Borhan buying groceries with the Sara aid. — Bernama

The “Sumbangan Asas Rahmah” (Sara), a government aid initiative to help the underprivileged buy essential items, has been increased to RM1,200 this year to offset the rising cost of living.

Rubiah Uthman, 66, said that although some might see the amount as small, it was quite substantial for needy folk like her. She works as a road sweeper.

“With that aid, I can buy cooking oil, sugar, milk and biscuits.

“I usually allocate about RM200 a month for these items. It helps that the government now gives all sorts of assistance, such as the Rahmah Sales.

“This enables me to set aside some of my earnings for emergencies, especially since my husband and I don’t have pensions,” the mother-of-four told Bernama when met in Seremban, Negri Sembilan.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the Finance Minister, was reported to have said that the Sara programme would benefit over 700,000 people.

With an allocation of RM700mil, this year’s aid amount is five times more than last year’s RM130mil which benefitted 210,000 people.

Implemented in stages since Jan 22, the improved Sara targets those most affected by increased expenses.

Housewife Siti Maryam Harun, 45, said the programme allowed recipients to buy essential items by presenting their MyKad at stores.

She said this was helpful especially for the elderly and women as they did not have to wait in long queues.

“It also prevents people from abusing the aid to buy other items,” said Siti Maryam of this cashless form of welfare which automatically deposits RM100 in an account opened using the recipient’s MyKad.

“As I cook for my family every day, it is useful to buy kitchen essentials and it saves me withdrawing RM100 of my money every month,” she added.

Retiree Borhan Alias, 65, was grateful for the government’s concern for poor folk like him.

“I just found out from a friend about this aid, which helps cover our daily expenses.

“Last month, I got RM100 and I will get another RM100 this month so I can buy rice, biscuits and oil,” said the father of one.

This year, the Sara aid for households had been increased to RM1,200 from RM600 in 2023, while the rate for single individuals remained at RM600.

For recipients in peninsular Malaysia, the aid will be disbursed monthly, with households and single elderly individuals receiving RM100 per month, and singles receiving RM50 per month.

In Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan, households and senior citizens without a spouse will receive two instalments of RM600 while single individuals will get RM300.

The monies would be deposited in their bank accounts or given out at Bank Simpanan Nasional branches.