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‘Najib did not challenge my forecast’

 | December 28, 2011

An economic programme that fails to substantially improve the income of the majority while actually increasing the number of the poorest citizens is scandalous, says Anwar Ibrahim.

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim shrugged off the Najib administration’s criticism of his income gap forecast.

The former deputy prime minister and finance minister had warned that the Najib’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) would widen the income gap and benefit only the rich at the expense of the poor.

Come 2020, he noted, seven to 8.3 million Malaysian citizens would be earning less than RM1,500 monthly and would be consigned to the urban poor category.

This represented 51% of the nation’s workforce in 2020, as compared to 56% for 2009 which is a dismal increase of 5%, he added.

“For all the fanfare and self-serving publicity extravaganza that came with the ETP unveiling, this indeed is a serious let down for the people.

“Prime Minister Najib (Tun Razak) has failed to challenge my analysis that the ratio of wages to the Gross National Income will shrink,” said Anwar in a statement.

Anwar also questioned the Najib government’s projected annual income growth of 3.6% from 2010 to 2020.

Based on his research, the income growth in the said period would only increase by 2.6%, a depressing figure considering the rate of increasing cost of living would “far exceed” the wage increment percentage.

He added that a Labour Market Survey of 2009 involving 24,000 employers and 1.3 million workers showed that 33.8% of these workers earned less than RM700 monthly.

Extrapolated against the nation’s entire workforce, it would tantamount to 34% being below the poverty line, argued the Permatang Pauh MP.

“The projected figure of 3.6% is therefore not only marginal but misleading in that it fails to show the increase in real wages which is a standard indicator of economic growth.

“Additionally, the projection that inflation will be around 2.8% annually till 2020 is also unrealistic considering that the inflation rate for the last 12 months has been constantly above 3%,” he said.

Soaring inflation

Najib is looking to strengthen his own standing and improve his ruling coalition’s dismal performance in 2008 general election by promising drastic growth, aiming to achieve Malaysia’s developed nation status target by 2020.

But Anwar said Najib’s quest to turn Malaysia into a high-income nation or a per capita Gross National Income of RM48,000 by 2020 would not be achieved if the inflation rate was over 2.8% in the coming years.

And if the average inflation rate till 2020 reaches 4% per annum, he said, an estimated 7.6 million Malaysians would be earning a monthly income of less than RM1,500.

“An economic programme that fails to substantially improve the income of the majority while actually increasing the number of the poorest citizens is scandalous, reckless and represents an utter dereliction of duty of the government.

“This is the central issue that must be addressed by the prime minister himself and this he has failed to do so,” he said.


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