Malaysia's income distribution inequality 'still high'

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia’s Gini Coefficient Index, which measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of income in a certain country, is “still high” compared with other countries in the region, according to Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah.

He said the country’s Gini index was at 0.431 as at end-2012 compared with other countries in the region such as Thailand at 0.4, Indonesia at 0.37 and India 0.33.

Speaking at the Budget 2014 Focus Group Meeting to Address Income Inequality, Ahmad Husni said the Gini Index for Malaysia had remained relatively stagnant at 0.4 since the late 1980s.

The Gini index, however, showed a slight improving trend when it fell from 0.441 in 2009 to 0.431 in 2012, Ahmad Husni said.

He noted that the latest household income survey revealed that the average household income for Malaysians had increased from RM4,025 in 2009 to RM5,000 in 2012 – reflecting an average annual growth of 7.2%.

However, he said there were still gaps between income levels of ethnic groups, urban and rural areas as well as income groups.

“For instance, the urban-rural income gap widened from 1.8 in 2009 to 1.9 in 2012,” he said.

The series of focus group meetings is the Treasury’s annual agenda to engage relevant stakeholders from the public and private sectors as well as non-governmental organisations to solicit input for consideration in the national Budget, which will be tabled in Parliament on Oct 25.

Ahmad Husni said in the spirit of inclusiveness as stated under the New Economic Model, the Government would ensure all rakyat would benefit from the nation’s prosperity and development.

He added that the Government had implemented various programme to assist the disadvantaged as well as help reduce income equality.

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