Should BR1M Recipients Drive for Ride-Sharing Services?

Eligible Malaysians can now begin applying for the the 2017 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) programme. The application period, which began Dec 5th, runs until the 31st, according to the Finance Ministry.

Successful applicants will see payouts made in stages beginning February 2017. With recipients set to receive a total of between RM450 and RM1,200 based on their income bracket, many will now be considering whether they should invest the funds into a potential side-income from the ride-sharing business like Uber and Riding Pink.

To recap, Prime Minister Najib Razak surprised Malaysia last October by unveiling a surprise RM4,000 rebate for BR1M aid recipients who buy a new car for the purpose of driving for a ride-sharing service provider such as Uber.

In his Budget 2017 speech, Najib said those who do not own a vehicle for this purpose will get the rebate for the purchase of Proton Iriz. A condition, however, is that their BR1M aid must go into the down payment for the vehicle.

It was a landmark move touted as global first. In an immediate response, Uber Malaysia lauded the incentive as the government’s recognition of Uber’s socio-economic impact to Malaysians in the bottom 40% of the household income pyramid.

That said, a pressing factor remains for consideration before the recipients commit to this route. Would such a move ultimately pay off for them?

First set-up in 2012, BR1M’s primary objective is to provide some relief to lower-income households in the face of rising cost of living in the country. While the annual budget had seen increasing allocations for this purpose over the years, whether the aid makes a significant difference remains a subject of hot debate in Malaysia.

Therefore the primary concern to consider for its recipients before they choose to use the aid for a new car is whether they have the appetite for increased risks in the form of higher financial commitments — monthly instalments, maintenance costs and possibly unexpected repairs from regular driving.

It is a risk-versus-reward consideration that would not be easy for the recipients. While the potential gain could very well improve their standards of living, there may be room for further support from the government and other public institutions to mitigate the risk they may need to take in beginning.

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