Over 2,300 recipients go off welfare
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
MONTHLY welfare assistance to more than 2,300 recipients has been stopped since April 2012 as they have either managed to start earning a monthly income or are now availing of financial aid from other sources.
This was revealed by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah yesterday.
He was speaking during the seventh day of the 11th Legislative Council (LegCo) session.
YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair revealed that there are currently 6,079 monthly welfare recipients (family heads) in the country (4434 in Brunei-Muara, 659 in Belait, 737 in Tutong and 249 in Temburong) out of which 1,650 or 27 per cent were single mothers.
The minister was responding to questions raised by LegCo member YB Datin Paduka Hjh Zasia Sirin about how the ministry handled cases regarding underprivileged single mothers, as well as how it planned to encourage these women to become independent and no longer depend on government aid.
“It should be made clear that poverty eradication programmes carried out by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) are not solely in the form of monthly financial aid, but also include empowerment programmes and support to change (recipients’) mindsets through advice and counselling,” said the minister.
YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair acknowledged that welfare aid given to the underprivileged was not a “long-term solution” to remove them from the cycle of poverty.
“In this regard, the situation of these recipients will be reviewed after a one-year period.
And when the recipients are found to be able to support themselves (after this time), the financial assistance will be terminated,” he explained.
Speaking about the ministry’s Community Empowerment Programme, which is held in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair said 17 out of the programme’s 91 participants (to date) were single mothers.
He added that the ministry and Special Committee on Poverty under the National Social Issues Council were continuously monitoring the progress and effectiveness of such intervention programmes that are provided to those in need, to ensure that all efforts would be “worthwhile, sustainable and value-for-money”.
The Brunei Times