Tok Pa: Poverty rate could have risen 3pc following Covid-19 pandemic

The homeless find shelter at the Sentul Perdana Community Centre in Kuala Lumpur amid the movement control order April 2, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The homeless find shelter at the Sentul Perdana Community Centre in Kuala Lumpur amid the movement control order April 2, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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PUTRAJAYA, March 12 — The government will continue to focus on reducing the country’s poverty rate following the Covid-19 outbreak, which has affected people’s livelihoods.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said based on the Household Income, Expenditure and Basic Amenities Survey 2019, the poverty rate for the year was 5.6 per cent, and it could now increase by almost three per cent.

“The Poverty Line Income review study was conducted in 2019 and announced last year. So this study does not cover happened in 2020.

“If we look at 2020, that is when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and now, the numbers are definitely different. In 2019, the poverty rate was 5.6 per cent. There was an estimate done by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) during the Covid-19 period, that it (the rate) could increase by about three per cent, namely 8.4 per cent,” he said in a recent interview on his ministry’s achievements in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of Malaysia Prihatin.

Mustapa said the issue of national poverty was also placed as a priority under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), which among others, focused specifically on eliminating hardcore poverty as well as reducing socio-economic inequality by implementing comprehensive and targeted programmes. 

He said the 12MP also emphasised the Bumiputera empowerment agenda to reduce the gap between the Bumiputeras and other races, apart from accelerating development in Sabah and Sarawak and other less developed states.

Meanwhile, Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin when contacted by Bernama said the latest study was still in the pilot phase.

“The study will be done in the middle of this year. For now, we are doing a pilot test. The results (data) will be released and shared with the public before the end of next year,” he said.

In the meantime, Mustapa said he was scheduled to visit several locations in Sabah with the state government (officials) beginning next week to get the true picture of poverty there.

He said accurate and more detailed data was needed in formulating a suitable plan for those who required the government’s attention.

“The problem with data on poverty is that there are many sources. For example, we have DoSM, eKasih, the Social Welfare Department and so on. We want to make sure the data on poverty is accurate.

“If you look at DoSM, it says there are 405,441 poor households, but we have been informed that there may be more than that. So we will go down to the field to see the real situation. We will go to Sabah to validate and verify the poverty numbers,” he said. — Bernama

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