Malaysia’s poverty line set to increase with new calculation method

By S. Harrish

MALAYSIA may see a higher poverty rate as the government works to introduce a revised poverty line index (PLI).

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the PLI will see a new methodology introduced, which will include updated figures on poverty as well as to better reflect the current social-economic situation in the country.

The MalayMail reports that the previous methodology was formulated in 2005, with poverty currently benchmarked at RM980 at the national level and calculated based on the basic requirements for a household to live healthily and actively.

The national poverty rate is only at 0.4 per cent, based on the 2005 methodology.

Mustapa explained that the Department of Statistics had already conducted the revision of the necessary figures and the results have already been tabled to the Cabinet.

“The Cabinet has then asked me to perform several engagements. Once all these engagements are done, we will issue the new figures related to the poverty line index soon,’’ he said.

Mustapa remarks come after a report released by former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, who criticised the PN government for allegedly backtracking on a commitment to take poverty seriously.

In the report, Alston stated that Malaysia’s low poverty rate, as well as its PLI, did not reflect reality and is in need of a revision.

The UN former special rapporteur visited the country last year and travelled to Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Sarawak, Sabah, and Kelantan, meeting state and federal government officials, international agencies, civil society, academics, and people affected by poverty in urban and rural areas.