| Bernama | Malaysia | 29 March 2016 | Asia Samachar |
By Kisho Kumari Sucedaram
PUTRAJAYA, March 29 (Bernama) — It has barely been two years since the unit for the Socio-Economic Development of Indian Community (SEDIC) was set up but it is already making an impact on the lives of Indians in the bottom 40 per cent household income group (B40).
Its Director Prof Datuk Dr N.S Rajendran said more than 90 per cent of the programmes carried out by the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private skills training institutes (PSTIs) using government funds channelled through SEDIC have turned out to be successful.
“So far, more than 160,000 people have directly benefited from the programmes,” he told Bernama, recently.
In 2015 alone, RM100 million was disbursed to various NGOs and PSTIs which implemented a total of 379 programmes across various scopes.
Rajendran said his unit was currently carrying out a detailed study of the impact of the programmes and hoped to come up with a report by June this year.
2016 ALLOCATION REVISED
SEDIC, which is the brainchild of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and comes within the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department, was formed in May 2014 to ensure that funds provided by the government to the Indian community are governed efficiently and reach the target groups.
There are 2.6 million Indians in the country.
This year’s allocation was originally set at RM100 million but was revised to RM60 million following the recalibration of Budget 2016 by the government due to the prevailing economic slowdown.
Rajendran said there were about 600,000 Indians in the B40 group who were in need of assistance to improve their socio-economic status.
According to the 2015/2016 Economic Report, the B40 group consists of 40 per cent of households in Malaysia with a monthly income of up to RM3,855.
The participating NGOs and PSTIs were targeting single mothers, school dropouts, unemployed graduates, youths at risk and marginalised Indians for their programmes, said Rajendran.
“Last year, one-third of SEDIC’s funding went for programmes to help youths at risk,” he said, adding that NGOs and PSTIs have until April 11 to submit their applications and proposals for funds from this year’s allocation.
The application forms can be downloaded from the unit’s website at www.sedic.my.
For this year, the programmes to be implemented by the NGOs and PSTIs will cover six scopes, including entrepreneurship development; preschool education empowerment; education through tuition classes; and increasing intake of Indian students into universities, polytechnics, industrial training institutes and national youth skills institutes.
“Last year was a challenging year for us as we received so many applications from various NGOs and PSTIs. At the same time, our prime minister wanted us to have a comprehensive system in place, starting from the time the applications are received right up to the monitoring process,” he pointed out.
He said all applications for funding would have to be studied by SEDIC officials before they were submitted to the Evaluation Programme Committee, which comprised representatives from various government agencies, as well as an observer from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
He said once an application is evaluated and approved by the committee, it is sent to the prime minister for endorsement.
“Funds are disbursed after the applicant has signed a memorandum of understanding with SEDIC,” he said, adding that the unit’s work did not stop there.
“It’s also our job to monitor all the participating NGOs and PSTIs to ensure that they are carrying out their projects as scheduled. We even carry out spot checks on them.”
He said they were also required to present their midterm and final reports based on the templates given, and have to keep SEDIC informed of their progress or the issues they faced.
“We try to guide them whenever they face problems because we want to make sure the funds are utilised properly to benefit the target groups,” he said.
Rajendran also said that any NGO or PSTI with sound proposals that were in line with SEDIC’s objectives stood a good chance of getting allocations from the unit.
“For this year’s allocations, we want to give priority to new applicants but we certainly don’t practise favouritism; neither do we allow any political party to influence us,” he stressed.
Asked if there had been any abuse of funds, Rajendran said so far there had only been one case of abuse and SEDIC was now in the process of taking action against the organisation concerned.
“There has also been a case where an NGO decided not to go ahead with its project due to various constraints and returned the funds to us,” he said.
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