New income poverty line will be announced soon – Mustapa

by BERNAMA/ pic by TMR FILE

A NEW poverty line (PGK) based on the 2019 methodology with an actual representation of the country’s poverty level will be announced soon,  said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (picture).

He said the Department of Statistics had conducted a survey on household income and expenditure, as well as basic amenities  between January and November 2019 to obtain the actual figures on poverty in Malaysia.

“Several committees have been set up to study these figures and the results had been tabled twice to the Cabinet,” he told reporters after the launch of the 2020 Population and Housing Census at the Putrajaya International Convention Center, here today.

The United Nations had claimed that Malaysia’s poverty rate of 0.4 per cent in 2016 was unrealistic given the low benchmark of RM980.

Mustapa said the decision to review the PGK figures had actually been made some time ago, during the Mid-term Review of the 11th Malaysia Plan by then Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in October 2018.

Admitting that that the RM980 PGK for households based on the 2005 methodology was no longer relevant, Mustapa gave an indication that the poverty rate to be based on the new PGK would certainly be higher.

“In 2005 the per capita income was RM20,000, but now it has gone up to RM45,000. This means that the per capita income has doubled, so it is unlikely that the PGK will remain at RM980.

“Under the 2019 methodology, firstly, the figure will be higher than RM980, secondly, the poverty rate will definitely be above 0.4 per cent,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mustapa confirmed that the government did have discussions on the proposal to revert the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project to its original alignment, but no decision has been made so far.

“I can confirm that there were discussions on it but no decision has been made,” he said, adding that the discussion was led by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The media had reported that the government was discussing on the possibility of reverting the ECRL back to its original alignment as was proposed during the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, mainly on Section C, that involves Klang Valley to Port Klang.

On a claim by a research analyst that the proposed realignment could incur an additional RM20 billion to its original cost of RM44 billion, Mustapa said the matter has to be answered by the Transport Ministry.