GEORGE TOWN, Jun 24 – The Penang state government has proposed that the Cost of Living Allowance (Cola) for fishermen currently given as cash handouts, be replaced with a food subsidy card.
Health, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and Penang Rural Development Committee chairman Afif Bahardin said the card would ensure that fishermen and their families received food and the basic necessities from selected stores, based on their eligibility and requirements.
Cola for fishermen amounting to between RM200 and RM300 began in June 2008 with the aim of easing the burden of living costs for fishermen. He said in a statement yesterday that Cola in the form of cash payments should be stopped and replaced with more targeted policies such as the provision of food aid subsidies and necessities.
Afif said a comprehensive audit should be undertaken by the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry. The audit was necessary so that there was a ‘clean and updated’ list of fishermen to reduce abuse.
He also recommended that fuel subsidies to fishermen be given through the use of smart cards with credits so that the fuel subsidy financing would be more efficient and transparent. “The measure also allows only eligible fishermen to receive diesel fuel subsidies based on the updated list,” he said. — Bernama