KUALA LUMPUR: The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) want the national poverty line income (PLI), which was revised from RM980 to RM2,208 in July 2020, to distribute welfare aid.
In a statement on Friday, IDEAS said the PLI is important for it classifies which households and how many of them fall below the poverty line, thus requiring government assistance.
The think tank notes that the PLI had been revised from RM980 to RM2,208 in July 2020, and that using the outdated PLI was problematic for several reasons.
It issued the press release following Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff’s statement in Parliament on Oct 6, 2021 that welfare aid was deliberately distributed during the Covid-19 pandemic using an outdated metric for measuring poverty.
Siti Zailah had stated the PLI was used to lessen the government’s financial burden. However, IDEAS argues that using an outdated PLI to distribute aid was problematic.
“IDEAS stresses that the PLI is important for it classifies which households and how many of them fall below the poverty line, thus requiring government assistance. The think tank notes that the PLI had been revised from RM980 to RM2,208 in July 2020, and that using the outdated PLI was problematic for several reasons,” it said
For one, IDEAS believes that the amount of welfare aid being distributed based on the old PLI does not accurately reflect the real situation on the ground faced by Malaysians facing hardship and poverty.
Therefore, not enough struggling Malaysians have been receiving the adequate amount that they need.
IDEAS CEO Tricia Yeoh comments, “The government’s current fiscal predicament is no excuse to use outdated PLI figures. Government resources, especially during a time of crisis such as this global pandemic, should be prioritised towards people’s needs and wellbeing.
“In addition, the government should be prioritising and targeting the poorest communities who have been most gravely affected. However, we do welcome the initiative by the government as stated in the 12th Malaysia Plan to further revise the PLI in 2022 in light of post-pandemic conditions. We stress the need to regularly revise the PLI to accurately reflect current prices.”
IDEAS emphasised major decisions such as these should be made with transparency and accountability, and that the government should not unilaterally decide to use outdated metrics without meaningful consultation with poverty experts and academics.
Furthermore, without transparency over how the decision was made, there is no external party who is able to keep the government accountable for this decision now that it has been implemented.
“It is incumbent on the government to adopt the new PLI to ensure its welfare policies have the maximum impact,” Yeoh said.