Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Bleak Future for the Disabled in Budget 2016

Groups representing women and the disabled are very much disappointed with the lack of initiatives and insufficient allocation granted by the 2016 Budget tabled today.
All-Women’s Action Society (Awam) president Ho Yock Lin said the lack of allocation for women simply showed that the government “has no money”.
Ho pointed out more programmes were announced under last year's budget for working women, women entrepreneurs, housewives as well as women directors in order to create a more productive society.
“There were lots of fancy names (for the programmes) last year [...] the government must explain what all these programmes have achieved,” she told Malaysiakini.
Najib today only announced that the RM848 million Kuala Lumpur Women's and Children's Hospital will commence operations in October 2016.
The premier also announced that an allocation of almost RM2 billion will be given to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to assist the disabled, the elderly and poor families.
Ho (photo), however, said this was “very disappointing” and showed that women seemed to be “disappearing”.
“Although the others (disabled, the elderly and the poor) are important, women seem to be disappearing, being lumped together.
“With the 11th Malaysia Plan due to start next year, this means there’s nothing to boost the programmes for women.
“The government should continue to enhance the previous programmes,” she said.
'Not benefitting everyone'
Pointing out how women accounted for almost half of the country’s population, Ho also pointed out how the Goods and Services Tax (GST) had affected all Malaysians.
“Women have to be the magicians juggling all the expenses in the household. The GST is really killing those who run the households,” she said.
Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for Disabled and Elderly Association (Petpositive) founder Anthony Thanasayan said the budget announcement was all “a muddle up” and that the government did not know what it was doing after so many years.
“They are appearing to give this and that, but it’s not really benefitting everyone,” he said.
Commenting on the almost RM2 billion allocation to be given to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, Thanasayan said it was important to know how the money was going to be used.
“Is it going to be used for conferences and international events at luxury hotels or is it really going to get down to the people who need the assistance,” he queried.
Najib today also announced that RM445 million would be allocated for monthly allowances of RM350 for each employed disabled person; while unemployed disabled persons will receive RM200 each.
A cash assistance of RM300 will be given to those taking care of bedridden disabled persons.
'A bleak future'
This, Thanasayan (photo) said, was a “terrible disappointment”.
“We have been asking RM500 to be given to all disabled people in the country whether they are blind or learning-disabled,” he said.
He added that it was also a “terrible insult” to differentiate the amount given for the disabled.
“Why have distinctions? Who makes these distinctions [...] the able-bodied people with their ideas of what disability is?” he asked.
What was important to be addressed was the role of caregivers, he said.
“The disabled are growing older and their caregivers are also growing older.
“In other countries, special caregivers are paid by the government to care for these people,” he said.
All in all, Thanasayan lamented that there was simply “no good news” for the disabled especially with the GST and the toll hike, among others.
“It’s a bleak future for the disabled,” he said.
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