By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS
Selangor’s economy and growth will be impacted with the ageing population, longer life expectancy and slower population growth, said Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari (picture).
He said the average life expectancy in Selangor had reached 75 years old, a significant jump from about 65 years old 10 years ago.
“As more people can live up to the age of 75, our birth rate is rising at 1.7%, lower than the national rate of 1.9%,” he said at the Selangor Budget 2019 Roundtable (Education and Human Capital) Discussion in Shah Alam Selangor yesterday.
He said with the failure to address these trends which involve the most active and productive group, the working group will become smaller compared to retirees and will subsequently affect the state’s economy and productivity.
The lower birth rate has been contributed to the high cost of living, forcing couples to opt to have less children. Besides inflationary pressures, parents have to address other related costs like education for their children, while salaries have been stagnant for many groups.
Amirudin said one of the challenges is to promote a higher birth rate in the state.
“Beside more ways to prevent pregnancy like medication, ways to encourage a higher birth rate faces some constraint, especially in term of costs. Thus, we must be prepared,” he said.
Selangor, the most developed state in Malaysia, contributed 7.1% of the nation’s GDP, higher than the national average of 5.9%.
Amirudin said currently, the government can focus on helping retirees to be prepared for their old age.
He said this group can continue to contribute and the state is ready to organise various programmes to support them.
“This year we have started a reskilling programme which involves army veterans with a RM1 million budget. The programme has benefitted more than 1,000 people so far.
“They are now empowered with several skills such as farming and how to participate in businesses,” he said, adding that there are about 12,000 ex-army retirees in Selangor.
Amirudin said the government may also consider establishing a community centre for old folks.
Selangor is home to 6.38 million people, or about 20% of the country’s total population. In 2014, the state’s population was 6.05 million.
The population growth in the state is steadily declining from 2.5% in 2014, to 2.1% (2015), 1.8% (2016) and 1.4% last year.
Last March, The Malaysian Reserve reported that Malaysia is moving towards an ageing population.
The Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society said currently, citizens around the age of 60 and above have risen from 6.2% in 2000. The number is expected to hit 13.6% by 2030. Malaysians who are above the age of 65 account for up to 6.2% of the nation’s total 32.3 million population.