KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — Putrajaya is being fair to all by removing the RM500 price cap for the RM200 smartphone rebate scheme and it will not deprive lower-income youths of the privilege, says Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
The information, culture and communications minister said the original target group comprising of low-income youths would still have access to the rebate under the RM300 million scheme introduced in Budget 2013. The Cabinet decided last week to remove the price cap after complaints from Umno Youth and MCA.
“We feel you should give the opportunity to all,” Rais said, having earlier stated that smartphone purchases are expected to be made based on ability and needs.
He said that there will be phone models available in both the RM500 and above RM500 price range, saying “so it’s a fair world”.
“It’s not that they are robbing the rights of the RM500 go-getters,” he said at a press conference here.
He gave examples of youths who could not afford a RM700 smartphone opting for a RM600 one, adding that there were previously complaints that phones worth RM550 did not fall within the one-off rebate scheme.
Rais also said that a panel comprising firms that sell smartphones and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will be set up to prevent excessive profiteering.
The RM300 million rebate scheme is expected to benefit 1.5 million youths aged 21 to 30 and drawing a salary of less than RM3,000 each month.
The scheme was announced last September, and online registration to get the discounts for the internet-enabled phones started this January 1.
Saying about 10,000 youths have registered online for the rebate, Rais added that the government has yet to see many youths “racing” to buy smartphones under the scheme.
When asked about concerns that youths without Internet access would be placed at a disadvantage due to the online registration requirement, Rais said “there is nothing ideal in this world. We try our best.”
He then questioned what was so “onerous” about the online registration method, saying that it was not meant to inconvenience users.
He said registration would allow the collection of data so that the industry can know “how many actually want to buy handphones”.
Yesterday, an unnamed MCMC official was reported saying that the smartphone rebate scheme has attracted urban youths after the RM500 price cap was unlocked.
“As a result, only a small portion of the 1.5 million beneficiaries of the scheme are believed to be rural youths, due to the advantage of better connectivity (for urban youths),” he was quoted as saying by Sin Chew Daily.