SEREMBAN: The government needs to quickly come up with new strategies to combat poverty, says Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
The Umno deputy president, popularly known as Tok Mat, said although the government would soon be announcing strategies to "reset" the economy post-Covid-19, it was imperative that specific measures to fight poverty were also outlined simultaneously.
He said more workers were expected to lose their jobs.
The Rantau assemblyman on Saturday (July 11) said the urban poor and rural folk deserved more attention as they had been the most impacted by the outbreak.
"The government needs to immediately come up with comprehensive policies that are needs-based and empower the people.
"These strategies will also be crucial to prevent past mistakes where only certain races were identified as poor and should be helped.
"I never expected there would come a time in the 21st century when Malaysia would need a policy to eradicate poverty and restructure society. Well, this is the reality in 2020," he said.
On Friday, the Statistics Department revised Malaysia's poverty line income (PLI) from a monthly household income of RM980 to RM2,208, thus pushing up the country's poverty rate from 0.4% in 2016 to 5.6% in 2019.
Mohamed said if the latest PLI methodology was used to measure poverty rate in 2016, the percentage would be at 7.6% or 525,743 households.
He said the country's PLI was already considered "too low" even before the Covid-19 outbreak.
The incidence of absolute poverty in rural areas in 2019, for example, was 12.4%, which was way higher than the 3.8% in urban areas.
"We also need to know that the challenges faced by the urban poor and rural folks are different.
"The urban poor need to face the fact that they may lose their jobs in the midst of higher living costs while the rural community has been affected with depressed commodity prices, access to markets and low productivity for lack of innovation," he said.
He said Malaysia was going to witness an increase in poverty across races, with the bumiputra and Indian communities most affected.
He said although all levels of society will be affected, the worst impacted will be workers and other wage earners.
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