Wrongly prioritising public spending and a lack of sensitivity towards the poor when formulating public policies are among the causes of the country's widening income inequality.
Recent statistics revealed under the Ninth Malaysia Plan indicated that the rich were getting richer while the poor got poorer, Penang state executive councillor Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon said.
“This worsening inequality indicates that the country's economic growth has largely benefited those in the higher income brackets as compared to the poorer segments of society.
“The poor now still have access to cheap and good public healthcare but with the impending introduction of a national health financing scheme, they may be required to purchase insurance premiums before they can be treated,” he said during the Society of St Vincent de Paul's (SSVP) Fund Raising Dinner at the Holy Spirit Church in Jalan Besi, Green Lane.
“Privatisation of essential social goods like highways, electricity and in future, water, coupled with an increasing reliance on indirect taxes rather than direct taxes as sources of revenue and the withdrawal of subsidies for the poor are among the policies that caused the widening of the income gap,” he said, adding that these causes of inequality must be addressed in order to eradicate poverty in the country.
Among those who attended the charity dinner were SSVP state council spiritual director Father Fabian Dicom and president Andrew Yong.
The dinner aimed to raise RM50,000 to fund the society's charitable activities, including providing food and financial aid for the unemployed, handicapped and widowed.