Day of joy for Zakat recipients
The smiles on their faces said it all.
Successful applicants who were promised a cut of the multi-million-dollar financial aid from Zakat collection finally had their share banked into their bank accounts yesterday.
In His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's Titah last Wednesday, the monarch said that these shares were meant to lessen the burden of the less fortunate by providing them with a better, more comfortable life.
From as early as 6.30am yesterday, people armed with files of certificates and documents stating their entitlement had gathered outside a bank in the capital.
When asked what she would do with the extra money, Dayang Rosnah of Kampong Ayer told the Bulletin that her priority was to buy food and supplies for her house.
"I will also use the money to settle my debts," she said.
An elderly man, Awang Abdullah, express his gratitude to Allah the Almighty and His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for easing his burden.
"It has been a while since I had this much money on hand," said the 68-year-old man as he flicked some 50-dollar notes. "Some of this will be used to pay off my debts, while the rest will be kept for a rainy day."
A single mother of two, Hjh Rokiah of Berakas, meanwhile, said that she would receive $30,000 in financial aid from the fund.
However, there were a few sad faces, as they were not able to withdraw the money from the bank due to "procedural mistakes". Some had attempted to withdraw the money from account that was currently under the name of the head of family, either their mother or father.
Bank staff reassured the Bulletin that this matter could easily be resolved as long as the head of family can write a letter authorising one of their relatives to withdraw the money on their behalf.
Some people who visited the bank early yesterday morning were saddened to hear that their accounts had not been updated. They were told to come back after noon to see if the money had been banked into their respective accounts.
However, many people are still confused as to how much they would be allowed to withdraw each month.
It is understood that the funds that are banked into their resistive accounts can only be withdrawn each month to the amount of no more than 1/12 (one-twelfth), 1/36, 1/48 or 1/60 depending on their category.
"I'm still in the dark about this arrangement," said Shamsuddin, a retiree who was told by a bank staff that he was not allowed to withdraw more than $1,000 yesterday.
Understandably, this is one of the mechanisms to prevent any of the recipients form spending the money like water.
His Majesty expressed his hope that the recipients of the shares would use the funds wisely and "avoid an extravagant and wasteful lifestyle" in last Wednesday's titah, which was delivered during a presentation ceremony for the 4,084 heads of families from the poor community.
Out of the 4,084, 2,313 were from Brunei-Muara District, 573 from Tutong, 749 from Belait and 259 from Temburong. Some 190 people were categorised under the al-Gharimin (debt-ridden) category.
The Bulletin has learnt that with the Zakat or monthly assistance, the 4,084 families will no longer be categorised as "poor" and will be removed from any list for the next couple of years.
The financial assistance should be sufficient to cover their basic foodstuff necessities, daily spending money, their children's education and rent for housing.
Meanwhile, recipients from the al-Gharimin category will be receiving funds to settle their outstanding housing debts up to January 31, 2009.
According to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the outstanding housing debt stood at $2,325,296.38, and the money is owed to Housing Development Department, Ministry of Development and Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation. (Borneo Bulletin).