Govt to establish Poverty Circle to address issue, says Mustapa

KUALA LUMPUR (June 17): The government will establish a Poverty Circle with members comprising representatives of the government, private sector, civil community organisations and academics to discuss and formulate the best strategies to tackle poverty, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement today, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the Poverty Circle will be administered by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU). 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, it also provides opportunities to Malaysia to reset the country's development towards a future that is more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable,” he said. 

Overall, Mustapa said Malaysia had attained good progress, especially in addressing poverty and improve the well-being of the people.

Based on the Poverty Line Income 2019 methodology, the absolute poverty rate had reduced to 5.6%, covering 405,441 households in 2019, compared with 7.6% (525,743 households) in 2016.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), the pandemic caused the poverty rate to increase to 8.4% in 2020 from 5.6% in 2019. 

The hardcore poverty rate also dropped to 0.4% (27,158 households) in 2019 from 0.6% (45,004 households) in 2016. 

Mustapa said the incidence of poverty was lower for all ethnic groups, with the biggest drop recorded by the bumiputera community.

However, he said there were still poverty and inequality clusters as well as various poverty dimensions — poverty in a more wider context in the aspects of income and not finances, covering health, education and basic facilities.

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Malaysia's economy has affected the people's income and driven more households into poverty, particularly among the B40 (bottom 40% income group) and vulnerable groups,” said Mustapa. 

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