Tok Pa: Expect higher poverty rate as revised index sheds light on Malaysia's socio-economic situation

Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (second from left) is pictured at the launch of the Malaysian Population and Housing Census 2020 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre July 7, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (second from left) is pictured at the launch of the Malaysian Population and Housing Census 2020 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre July 7, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, July 7 — The country could see a higher poverty rate as the government works to introduce a revised poverty line index (PLI), Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said today, following criticisms in a report published yesterday.

Mustapa said the new (PLI) will see a new methodology introduced, dubbed the 2019 methodology, which will include updated figures surrounding poverty as well as to better reflect the current social-economic situation in the country.

The previous methodology was formulated in 2005, with poverty currently benchmarked at RM980 at the national level and calculated based on the basic requirements for a household to live healthily and actively, according to the Department of Statistics.

The national poverty rate is only at 0.4 per cent, based on the 2005 methodology.

“If before this, the figures are at 0.4 per cent, then the percentage based on the new figures which we have dubbed the 2019 methodology, firstly the quantum of RM980 would definitely be higher, secondly it would be higher than 0.4 per cent,’’ he said to the press after the launch of Census 2020 by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin here,

Mustapa added that the revision into the PLI had taken place during the Mid-Term Review of the Eleventh Malaysia Plan in 2018.

Mustapa explained that the Department of Statistics had already conducted the revision of the necessary figures and the results have already been tabled to the Cabinet.

“The Cabinet has then asked me to perform several engagements. Once all these engagements are done, we will issue the new figures related to the poverty line index soon,’’ he said.

Mustapa remarks come after a report recently released by former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, who criticised the new government for allegedly backtracking on a commitment to take poverty seriously.

In the report, Alston stated that Malaysia’s low poverty rate, as well as its PLI, did not reflect reality and is in need of a revision.

The UN former special rapporteur visited the country last year and travelled to Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Sarawak, Sabah, and Kelantan, meeting state and federal government officials, international agencies, civil society, academics, and people affected by poverty in urban and rural areas.

Alston was rapporteur between 2014 and 2020, and was succeeded by Olivier De Schutter.

Related Articles