Govt aims for zero poverty by 2030

Private sector could also play their part to support related initiatives in eradicating poverty, says PM


POVERTY could be eradicated while the gap between the rich and poor would be closer within the next decade, in tandem with the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, via continuous cooperation between the government and private sector.

Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said poverty, which is one of the major problems hindering the country from moving forward, would need a holistic policy review that must be driven by the government.

He added that the private sector could also play their part to support related initiatives in eradicating poverty, especially via the community engagement or community-based approach.

“In the past, most poverty eradication strategies were essentially topdown and government-driven. However, these approaches did not yield optimum results.

“In the community-based approach, all strategies and interventions are coordinated at the community level and based on the assumptions that these approaches are focused on the poor, sustainable and capable of empowering the poor,” he said at the launch of Yayasan Sejahtera’s Community Development Fund (CDF) at the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2019 Forum in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said that such an approach, which is also being used by Yayasan Sejahtera, and efforts by various stakeholders will be more coordinated at the community level.

It is also designed to improve the socio-economic conditions of all members of the community.

At the launch of Yayasan Sejahtera’s CDF, a total of RM1.18 million was raised to be used for poverty eradication initiatives by various companies including Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Berjaya Corp Bhd.

“Hopefully by 2030, we would have eradicated poverty through the cooperation between the government and the private sector,” Dr Mahathir said.

“I would like to encourage more private sector organisations to contribute to the fund as it will be used for a worthy cause — to build sustainable communities in the country,” he added.

Dr Mahathir added that Malaysia has made considerable strides in poverty eradication efforts throughout the years, but problems relating to poverty persist and require attention at the policy level.

As such, he said close attention also has to be made on income and wealth distribution.

He said the progress towards reducing poverty will be stunted unless improvements in income and wealth distribution occur alongside poverty reduction.

“We are no longer just grappling with absolute poverty but also with relative poverty, pockets of persistent poverty and urban poverty, as well as increasing inequalities.

“While rural poverty continues to be critical, urban poverty needs policy attention and prescriptions. Persistent pockets of poverty continue to elude policy solutions in Malaysia,” Dr Mahathir said.

Recently, Putrajaya recognised the multi-dimensionality of poverty which resulted in the adoption of the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MPI).

Dr Mahathir said the MPI would lead to the introduction of policies that give attention to relative poverty through its focus on the bottom 40%.

“Our experience has taught us that economic growth per se does not equate to development for all. Averages hid a lot of inequality.

“A country cannot consider itself developed if some segments of its society do not have access to basic amenities, do not have jobs that can give them sufficient income or are unemployed and have little access to productive assets,” he added.

Dr Mahathir said relative poverty, which is also known as urban poverty, is a reflection of the urbanisation process.

Citing urbanisation as a global phenomenon, Dr Mahathir said rural people who move to bigger towns should elevate their standards of living by expanding their income through small businesses.

The move would avoid them from being continuously trapped in poverty, which in turn, would defeat the purpose of their migration to urban areas.

Dr Mahathir said the government is always willing to help this group by providing training and job opportunities.

“However, we notice that certain communities in Malaysia do not know enough about how to grow their business.

“They are very static. Once they achieve enough money to support their daily needs, they do not make any effort to grow their business they are involved in.

“So, we have to educate them on the needs for them to expand and grow their business so they can come out of poverty in the urban areas,” Dr Mahathir said.

Meanwhile, commenting on the incident of University of Malaya’s graduate protest with a placard on stage after receiving his scroll, Dr Mahathir said students are free to express their opinions but it should be done at suitable places, not interrupting official ceremonies.

“We have certain procedures, rules and regulations. We need to follow those rules, otherwise, there will be chaos.

“They can demonstrate but there are other places to do that. Don’t disturb a proper ceremony by trying to show that you have certain views. You can show those views elsewhere,” he said.


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