PETALING JAYA: The top consumer body has called on the government to establish a social protection floor which guarantees access to essential healthcare and provides income security for the elderly, among others.
In a statement, the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) said a social protection floor would help reform the country’s social security system and protect the more vulnerable.
“The focus should be on the hardcore poor, the elderly and the vulnerable,” its deputy president Paul Selva Raj said.
He said according to the Asian Development Bank , in 2015, only 3% of intended beneficiaries in Malaysia received social assistance, below the Asian average of 18.4%.
“This means the social protection coverage in Malaysia is narrow as many intended beneficiaries are not protected.”
He said the report also showed that the country was “under-investing” in social protection programmes.
The share of social protection expenditure to gross domestic product for Malaysia in 2012-2019 was between 3.8% and 4.7%.
“This ratio was about the same level of social protection in lower-middle-income countries.”
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the social protection floor would also guarantee access to basic income security for children, nutrition, education, care and other necessary goods and services.
The concept is based on the idea that everyone should enjoy at least basic income security that is sufficient to live on.
This includes guarantees through transfers in cash or in kind, such as pensions for the elderly and persons with disabilities, child benefits, income support benefits and/or employment guarantees and services for the unemployed and working poor.
Paul said establishing a social protection floor was crucial to ensure that those left behind were brought into the scheme to enjoy a minimum quality of life.
Previously, calls have been made for reform in the country’s social security, with the pension system taking up a whopping RM30.5 billion in this year’s federal budget, amounting to nearly 8% of the RM389 billion budget, and an increase of RM3 billion over the 2021 budget.