Sharing the fruit of economic success — Sin Chew Daily

APRIL 2 — Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim said many low-income Malaysians have not earned enough to lead a decent living in recent years, meaning their salaries are not up to the “living wage” standard.

According to Bank Negara’s 2017 annual report, 27per cent of Kuala Lumpur households are living below the “living wage”. As such, the government must come up with effective solutions to elevate the salary levels of the people so that all Malaysians can savor the fruit of the country’s robust economic development.

“Living wage” is not just about meeting the most basic day-to-day needs for mere existence, but to meet the standard of modern living, including visiting friends and family during the festive season and occasional gift shopping, among others.

As a country bids farewell to poverty and advances towards greater prosperity, its citizens will naturally have much higher expectations from living, and as such, it is more appropriate to adopt the “living wage” as a yardstick to gauge the people’s actual living standard.

Based on the 2016 standard, it is estimated that unmarried individuals living in Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru will need to make at least RM2,700 a month, RM4,500 for a childless couple, and RM6,500 for a family of four, in order to meet the “living wage” standard.

Unfortunately, due to the generally low income levels among Malaysians and the skyrocketing goods prices, the actual purchasing power of many individuals and households has weakened, making it difficult for them to gain access to relatively comfortable living.

The country’s macroscopic economic performance during the last few years has been enviable, especially the better-than-anticipated 5.9per cent GDP growth for 2017. This year, the national economy is expected to put up an equally exceptional show of between 5.5per cent and 6per cent of growth.

However, these encouraging economic numbers have failed to deliver a sense of euphoria to the general public, who are only feeling the pinch of spiraling inflationary pressure against their depressed salary levels, not the joy of robust economic expansion.

The fruit of the country’s economic expansion should be shared by all Malaysians, and those in the lower— and middle-income groups, in particular, are entitled to more acceptable levels of remunerations in order to catch up with the rapid pace of economic growth.

Over-dependence on migrant workforce to keep operating cost low is to be blamed for the current stagnant salary growth. While this may boost companies’ profits in the short term, it will smother their momentum for transformation in the long run.

Meanwhile, the depressed salary level in this country will also hamper the healthy growth of consumer market.

In short, companies must be prepared to increase their employees’ salaries and create more high-income job positions while the employees must constantly upvalue themselves in lifting their own skills as well as productivity to help propel their personal as well as their companies’ growth.

The country’s economic development has been a consequence of the concerted effort of all Malaysians, and the fruit of success should therefore be shared by all.

Simply, Malaysians’ salaries must go up, not stay put.—Sin Chew Daily

* This article was first published here.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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