Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak believes that Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali is confused about economic concepts and mathematics.
He was responding to the PKR leader's statement that the cash handout BR1M was a form of corruption and proved the previous administration's failure to assist the B40 low-income group.
Describing the statement as “rather odd”, Najib said Azmin's excuse was that the BN government failed to elevate the B40 to become M40 or middle-income earners.
“The B40 group will exist at all material times. This is basic mathematics,” he added in a Facebook posting.
Najib, who was also the former finance minister, pointed out that B40 represented the bottom 40 percent of income earners.
Therefore, he said, this does not mean that if the entire B40 is elevated to M40, there would no longer be those in the B40 bracket.
“For example, B40 is from the income RM4,000 per month and if the people's income increases one fold in the future, B40 will be classified as those earning RM8,000.
“At all times, there will be families who move up from B40 due to an increase in their income and there will be new families entering (the B40 bracket),” he added.
Question for Azmin: Has S'pore failed?
Reiterating that Azmin is perhaps confused, Najib said BR1M was not merely a scheme to eradicate poverty as there were numerous other schemes intended for this.
He noted that BR1M's main objective was to redistribute the wealth from the 60 percent of the high-income earners to the bottom 40 percent and to serve as an economic catalyst, especially in rural areas and small towns.
“This was the main purpose and it was crucial in reducing the income gap in Malaysia between the rich and poor as well as those in the cities and rural areas,” he added.
Najib said monies collected from GST, those who avoided taxes and the black economy, the majority of which are in the big cities, were distributed and returned to the B40 to increase income and spur their local economies.
“The 'direct cash transfer' and returning GST funds to the B40 is not new from an economic aspect.
“Among numerous countries, our neighbour Singapore also has a BR1M-like scheme called 'GST Voucher' which is paid on an annual basis.
“For 2018, Singapore paid S$1 billion to 1.6 million citizens earning S$28,000 and below a year, which is an average of S$625 (RM1,875) per person.
“I want to ask Azmin, has the Singapore government failed or did they 'buy' or 'pamper' their citizens for having a scheme similar to BR1M?” Najib added.