Putrajaya ready to review poverty line, says Dr M

A human rights expert from the UN says Malaysia is using an unduly low poverty line that does not reflect the actual situation.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the government is ready to review the national poverty line in order to provide an accurate picture of the situation after a UN expert disputed claims that poverty has been eliminated in the country.

The prime minister said it is important to completely eradicate poverty.

“Efforts to eradicate poverty must be ongoing and effective,” he said in a written reply to Port Dickson MP Anwar Ibrahim in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Anwar had asked about Putrajaya’s measures to eradicate hardcore poverty after UN human rights expert Philip Alston said Malaysia was using an unduly low poverty line that did not reflect the cost of living.

Mahathir said the government would adopt the multidimensional poverty index or MPI to complement the Household Income Survey (HIS) system currently in use.

He said the HIS system was a good way to view poverty on a macro level but not as accurate on the micro level.

“The MPI is more inclusive and follows international standards.

“I have also told the economic affairs ministry to look into the UN special rapporteur’s end of mission statements,” he said during question time.

The national poverty line is currently set at RM980 per household per month.

Besides changing the metrics to measure poverty, Mahathir said the government would also improve the eKasih system to widen subsidies for deserving groups.

He said the latest technology would also be used to improve the livelihoods of the poor.

“Our main strategy remains to increase income, improve purchasing power and empower those living in poverty.

“This is being done through cash aid, access to proper health care and education, among others,” he said.