Minister: Malaysia’s poor stands at 5.6 per cent or 405,441 households in 2019

Azril Annuar
·3-min read
Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed speaks during a post-Budget 2020 forum at Dewan Karangkraf in Shah Alam October 15, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed speaks during a post-Budget 2020 forum at Dewan Karangkraf in Shah Alam October 15, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — After changing its methodology to calculate poverty line income (Pendapatan Garis Kemiskinan – PGK), the government has found that the poverty rate in Malaysia stands at 5.6 per cent or 405,441 households for 2019.

In a press statement today, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that the national PGK is RM2,208 a month per household, which has increased by more than double from its previous PGK in 2016 which stood at RM980 per household.

“The methodology to calculate the PGK was last updated in 2005 and the PGK for 2016 had used the 2005 methodology.

“Based on the new PGK, poverty rate stands at 5.6 per cent (405,441 households) in 2019. If PGK 2019 was used to calculate the poverty rate in 2016, it would have stood at 7.6 per cent (525,743 households).

“This means, if we use the latest PGK calculation methodology, the poverty rate has gone down by two percentage from 7.6 per cent in 2016 to 5.6 per cent in 2019.

“This shows that the poverty eradication programmes conducted by the government and supported by NGOs and the private sector has borne fruit,” he said.

The survey is conducted twice every five years by the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department. It is supported by the Statistics Department, Health Ministry and a few other ministries as well as agencies.

The 2019 survey began from March 2019 until June 2020.

Among some of the changes made in the latest PGK are the changes made in the food category.

It streamlined the term “minimum” food required to “optimal minimum” food required which takes into consideration better quality food items based on the 2020 Food Pyramid and the Malaysian Diet Guide 2020.

“As an example, condensed milk has been changed to powdered milk which is healthier,” said Mustapa.

For non-food items, the new PGK took note of the necessities required by the B20 group. It had identified 40 new items, increasing the number of essential items to 146 from 106 in the 2005 PGK.

It also took note that household spending patterns, the price of items and services in 2019 have changed since 2005.

The government has also utilised a more multidimensional approach to gauge the poverty rate.

“One of it is to measure poverty based on a multidimensional approach which stresses on increasing the quality of life such as health, education, housing, living standards, access to information and household monthly income,” said Mustapa.

Putrajaya had come under fire last year when United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Professor Philip Alston had published a report claiming that the government had been under-reporting its poverty line.

Some leaders under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration back then had fired back at Alston and defended Malaysia’s poverty measurement system.

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