Govt’s move to prioritise low-income group, less-developed areas commended

Financial assistance for the low-income group should cover all bases to ensure the security and stability of Malaysians

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE government’s move to prioritise the low-income group and less-developed areas in the national financial distribution could improve the instability of Malaysia’s social economy.

Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Dr Ramon Navaratnam said the government could focus on developments that genuinely benefit the group, in addition to direct financial incentives.

“Besides focusing on infrastructure development, we have to take care of the people in the low-income group. We have to do both.

“Priorities must be given to projects that benefit the bottom 20% income group.

“We have to start from the lowest-income group because there are still people who do not have electricity, water, food and other basic necessities. Otherwise, the instability will be more prominent,” he told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.

Ramon added that the financial assistance for the low-income group should cover all bases to ensure that the security and stability of Malaysians are intact.

“When there is no stability in the people, then there will be no economic growth. We must keep the house in order first to keep the economy and security in a stable state.

“The budget must prioritise the poor. Otherwise, we will alienate Malaysians and set one against another,” he said.

At the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government will announce more allocation distributions to areas and states with a visible poverty rate in the tabling of Budget 2020.

Dr Mahathir also said the government will be reviewing the National Poverty Line (NPL) to depict the realities on the ground and eradicate poverty.

The move to review NPL came in the wake of a report by United Nations special rapporteur Prof Philip Alston in August, which disputed Malaysia’s declaration of nearly eliminating poverty and claimed that the official figures were inaccurate.

Dr Mahathir said the utilisation of Household Income Survey in measuring the poverty rate should be assessed, particularly when evaluating poverty at the micro level, as it did not take into account factors such as consumption patterns and household demographics.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia’s Report of Household Income and Basic Amenities Survey 2016, Pahang, Kedah and Kelantan recorded the lowest median monthly household income with levels below the national benchmark of RM5,228.

Measuring the GDP per capita for each state, Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan contributed the least to the national GDP in 2018 while Kedah, Perlis and Terengganu recorded the least growth in Consumer Price Index.