Mustapa: Country needs policies to ensure Malaysians can support themselves in old age

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020

PETALING JAYA: With a rapidly ageing society, Malaysia needs comprehensive policies that will ensure its people have adequate financial protection in old age, says Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (pic).

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department said policies were needed to foster workers’ productive employment – including for older people – such as enhanced opportunities for training and lifelong learning.

"Such policies will allow Malaysians to work longer, be healthier for longer, with less physically-demanding occupations, and with more digitally-enabled workplaces," he said at the launch of the World Bank report “A Silver Lining: Productive and Inclusive Aging for Malaysia” he said on Tuesday (Nov 24).

Mustapa said productive and inclusive ageing requires policies that build on solid evidence as pointed out in the World Bank report which reviewed where Malaysia stands today and what was needed in the next few years.

He said the report takes a holistic approach to obtain a comprehensive view of the real situation on the ground, which highlights the gaps in building a productive and inclusive ageing nation and provides actionable policy recommendations.

He added that three areas were required to create an integrated approach, provide clear prioritisation and fine calibration of policy measures in productive and inclusive ageing.

“First, fostering the productive employment of all workers, including older workers. Second, providing minimum income protection to all older persons and third, building an inclusive aged care system," he said.

Mustapa also said it was important to create an enabling market and regulatory environment and to strategically reorient public financing toward home and community-based aged care.

“In light of the (Covid-19) pandemic, it will also be crucial to continuously improve the aged care infrastructure, and service standards to ensure the health and safety of residents.

“The government is committed, in embracing the challenge of ageing, and to reap the opportunities that it can provide,” he said.

World Bank Group practice leader in human development Dr Achim Schmillen who presented the report said Malaysia, which had been a young society for the longest time, has changed in its demographic structure.

“With more than 7% of the population aged 65 and above in 2020, Malaysia is becoming an ageing society by the common international definition," he said.

Among the report findings also revealed that older people aged 85 and above are more likely to be in the B40 group, who will face many challenges in terms of making ends meet; 20% of older people live either on their own or only with other older people.

Schmillen also pointed out that Malaysia's employment rates for those aged between 55 and 64 were low, especially among women and the coverage of retirement savings institutions such as the EPF was relatively low, especially for the B40.

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