NGO wants govt to be transparent in micro-data on poverty

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 27 Aug 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) has urged the government to be more open and transparent in providing statistics and micro-data on poverty.

In response to a recent report made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on poverty, Ideas said that while it highlighted an important debate, these were not new issues.

Ideas research manager Wan Ya Shin said that the Malaysia Human Development Report in 2013 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also highlighted the need to relook how we measure poverty and the multidimensional aspects of poverty.

“The current government’s initiatives of looking at relative poverty and multidimensional poverty index are good measures. However, the absolute poverty rate is still an important indicator to determine who are the poor.

"There needs to be the distinction between chronic and transient poverty as different strategies are needed to address these groups.

"The key to enabling further and in-depth analysis would be more open and transparent access to micro-data and key national statistics.

Therefore, we need a strong political commitment to enable access to data to investigate different measurements and dimensions of poverty, as well as strategies for tackling poverty,” Wan said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 27).

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Professor Philip Alston, said recently that Malaysia's stance that less than 25,000 households in the entire country lived in poverty (or 0.4%) was unrealistic, and that our official methodologies undercount poverty.

Professor Alston further said that Malaysia’s official poverty line of RM980 was unrealistic and that our actual poverty rate could be between 16% and 20%.

Wan also support a recommendation to have a more holistic social protection, although she said there was a need for greater coordination among the many ministries that were implementing social protection programmes.

On the state of poverty among indigenous people, Wan said there needed to be disaggregated data on the Orang Asal in key national statistics to understand the state of poverty of the indigenous people and to formulate targeted strategies.

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