IPOH, Feb 23 ― Towering skyscrapers do not give meaning if there are still people trapped in poverty, struggling to secure basic necessities like food and shelter, said the Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah.

His Royal Highness said the commitment to eradicating poverty must remain steadfast, as poverty alleviation is crucial to guarantee the social well-being of the people.

“Addressing poverty stands as a central pillar of our government's Pelan Perak Sejahtera 2030 to ensure the equitable distribution of the state's wealth for the benefit of all people.

“This includes efforts to enhance overall quality of life, establish robust social safety nets, and provide quality healthcare services,” said Sultan Nazrin when opening the second meeting of the 15th Perak State Legislative Assembly here today.

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In pursuit of enhancing the state's prosperity, His Royal Highness said it is vital to recognise the deep connections between healthy relationships and the social determinants of health that profoundly impact people's overall well-being.

According to the Sultan, education is fundamental to promoting good health as it empowers individuals to make informed health choices and contributes significantly to national development.

Education plays a crucial role in reshaping the poverty landscape by lifting people out of the cycle of poverty and improving their quality of life, he added.

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His Royal Highness said while education policy primarily falls under the purview of the federal government, the state government can implement initiatives aimed at ensuring high attendance rates in schools and providing incentives to enhance students' interest in education.

“We must prioritise the education agenda, particularly for the younger generation, to prevent the perpetuation of poverty and foster upward social mobility within families,” he said.

The Sultan said the poverty eradication efforts spearheaded by the state government have brought a glimmer of hope, with the total number of hardcore poverty households reducing by 58 per cent to 3,911 on December 31 last year, from 9,402 households in January the same year.

This decline in extreme poverty, according to His Royal Highness, is due to various factors, including the dedication of district administrations and all relevant agencies.

“Through proactive teamwork involving a variety of stakeholders, including assistance from non-governmental organizations, we aim to ensure that all our people benefit from the progress of the state.

“Our government is dedicated to effectively implementing public housing initiatives, prioritising the fulfilment of citizen’s housing needs over the commercial interests of profit-seeking developers,” he said.

According to Sultan Nazrin, a total of 8,030 affordable housing units were constructed in Perak over five years until last year, with the Perak Housing and Property Board (LPHP) anticipating a demand for 57,407 housing units by 2030.

His Royal Highness said due to the struggle by many potential house buyers to afford homes because of disparities between their incomes and housing prices, the LPHP introduced the Perak Sejahtera Rental Scheme (SSPS), offering rental rates twenty per cent below market prices

“Additionally, the Perak Foundation launched the Sayangi Rumahku programme, providing free new housing assistance, as well as repair and enhancement programs, to support underprivileged individuals, while the People’s Housing Programme (PPR) offers interest-free housing loans to eligible beneficiaries,” he said.

Sultan Nazrin said LPHP has also submitted proposals for the establishment of PPR in various areas, involving the construction of 1,200 housing units for the people of Perak.

Sultan Nazrin also expressed his appreciation to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for its commitment to enhancing the well-being of the population in Perak, including through the Sentuhan Kasih Programme which focuses on conserving public facilities in locations under the administration of local authorities.

According to His Royal Highness, a total of RM95 million was allocated to fund 942 projects last year.

The Sultan said the projects included upgrading the Teluk Intan wholesale market, reconstructing the Taiping market, enhancing the street lighting system in Bandar Seri Manjung and Lumut, maintaining the reservoir in Taman Muhibah Jaya Kuala Kangsar, and constructing vending kiosks on Jalan Gapis, Seri Manjung, he added.

The ministry, through the Perak Housing and Property Board, also approved a budget of RM5.8 million for improving flat facilities in Perak, he added. — Bernama