KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — The disparity of incomes between the rich and the poor has been narrowing since the 1970s due to good governance and sound economic policies, a researcher said today.
Allen Ng from Khazanah Research Institute said the index to measure this — Gini coefficient — reduced to 0.39 last year from 0.51 in 1970.
The smaller the figure, the narrower the disparity of incomes.
“One reason why Malaysia did well or rather okay is because of our good policies and also due to the rapid industrialisation period of mid-80s to late 90s,” Ng said when presenting his papers titled “Inequality in Malaysia”.
Tertiary education, he said, was also a factor in determining a person’s income.
“But then again, the access to tertiary education will become a question of social mobility.
“Generally, however, education plays a role and those with tertiary education are said to earn more and thus this have reduce the gap between the middle class groups,” he said.
At another session of the seminar on the same subject, Professor Jomo Sundaram questioned the credibility of government statistics on the matter.
With the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), he said almost 50 per cent of household expenditures had been affected.
“Floating petrol prices, removal of subsidies and rise in tolls and transportation fares... how is it possible that our figures are showing positive signs ahead?” he said when presenting his papers titled “Economic inequality in Malaysia: Policy responses”.
Economic Planning Unit deputy director general Johan Mahmood Merican, who was among the panellists at Jomo’s session, said the government was doing its best to draft the best strategies to improve the livelihood of all.
This, he said, included looking at ways to distribute wealth equally.
He, however, did not refute nor comment on Jomo’s suspicion.