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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 ― More Malaysians may find themselves actually being among the poor in reality amid the Covid-19 pandemic, despite Malaysia’s current official M40 classification where they may still be considered as the country’s middle-class, MPs cautioned today in Parliament.
Highlighting the new financial reality for Malaysians today, the federal lawmakers suggested that the government consider revamping the categories of B40 and M40, which are currently used to indicate the low-income or bottom 40 per cent of society, and the middle-income group for the mid-40 per cent of society.
Umno’s Rompin MP Datuk Seri Hasan Arifin said the government should take heed that there will be “new poverty” in Malaysia.
“This is certain. When politics are not stable, with the Covid-19 situation and the economic growth situation, new poverty will occur,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat when debating Budget 2021, referring to the triple challenges that the country was facing as being an environment where people would find themselves as having newly fallen into poverty.
“What is the government’s plan to ensure this poverty can be controlled at the old levels?” he asked.
“The EPU should make a new evaluation, that is the rating or economic position within our country with the categories of B40, M40 and T20 is no longer suitable,” he added, referring to the Economic Planning Unit.
“Because the B40 may have increased to be B50, and the M40 will have decreased to be M30.”
Hasan stressed on the importance to relook at such income group classifications as well as poverty figures which he said would be used to draft the upcoming five-year national roadmap known as the 12th Malaysia Plan.
While noting that the government had in July revised the national poverty line income from RM980 to RM2,208, he said this may have to be reviewed by the government as the level of income before one is considered poor would differ in urban and rural areas.
Similarly, Umno’s Kimanis MP Datuk Mohamad Alamin similarly highlighted that the income group classification may have to be revised due to the financial impact of Covid-19.
“The B40, M40 and T20 projections I believe were done before Covid-19, but when there is Covid-19, the B40 and M40 projections are already different. Possibly it could be B40 is already B60, M40 has already become M20 and so on. I ask the government to revise this projection,” he said.
Based on the Household Income & Basic Amenities Survey Report 2019 which was released in July by the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the income threshold for Malaysia’s B40 group (2.91 million households) was RM4,849. In other words, households earning below RM4,850 per month in 2019 were considered B40.
The 2019 income threshold for the M40 group (2.91 million households) was between RM4,850 to RM10,959 per month, while the 1.46 million households in 2019 which earned more than RM10,960 per month were in the T20 or top 20 per cent group.