The government has channeled a total of RM11.14 billion to 10.4 million aid recipients so far under the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) assistance programme, which was announced in March as part of the Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package. This was revealed by prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in his recovery movement control order (RMCO) update speech yesterdat.

In the speech, financial assistance from Prihatin initiatives were listed. In auto-related areas, it was stated that 1.4 million ride-hailing drivers had received a cash allowance of RM500, amounting to RM34 million, while a total of 477,000 taxi drivers, tourist bus drivers and bus drivers have received a cash allowance of RM600, amounting to a total of RM28.8 million.

There are glaring errors in those numbers, as former transport minister Anthony Loke explained in a post on social media yesterday. He said that if 1.4 million drivers were paid RM500 per person, the total amount dispensed would be RM700 million, not RM34 million.

He added that the number of ride-hailing drivers registered with the land public transport agency (APAD) amounted to only 120,000, and the RM34 million in assistance would have seen 68,000 drivers getting RM500 each.

This also applies to the assistance programme for taxi and bus drivers. If 477,000 people were each given RM600, Loke said that the amount of aid given would be RM286.2 million, and not RM28.8 million, which more accurately works out to payment for around 48,000 individuals.

These figures have now been corrected by the prime minister’s office, which has just issued a statement revealing the actual numbers. It said that 68,336 ride-hailing drivers had received the one-off RM500 assistance, while 37,127 taxi and bus drivers had received the RM600 financial assistance, the latter totalling RM22.2 million.

The 68,336 figure follows closely on that reported last month, when the transport ministry revealed that as of June 11, 68,103 – or 99.8% – of the 68,227 ride-hailing drivers in Peninsular Malaysia who qualify for the financial assistance had received their payments. The stimulus package in March had also stated that there was a RM60 million allocation to assist 120,000 ride-hailing drivers in the country.