MTUC: No U-turn on revising unrealistic poverty line

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) logo

KUCHING, July 7: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) is calling on the federal government not to revise the poverty line which it deemed unrealistic.

MTUC secretary general J Solomon in a press statement said it is concerned with the plight of the B40 and M40 income group workers who might be affected by the potential changes by setting the poverty line too low.

He believed the revision of the poverty line will also affect millions of marginalised people who might need the federal government’s assistance to sustain their living.

“Our concerns are premised on the fact that most of the B40 and M40 group in Malaysia comprise blue collar workers who are represented by MTUC at the International Labour Organisation.

“For decades, they lived in abject poverty, surviving on meagre salary with little savings for emergencies nor old age.

“Many remain unable to afford a decent housing, forcing them to live in cramped conditions in poorly maintained rented apartments.

“The absence of effective policies due to misguided data and now, the economic fallout from Covid-19 have worsened their plight.

“(Thus), MTUC calls on the present government to alley any doubt that it will treat seriously United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston’s findings on poverty in Malaysia after he conducted an in-depth survey in Malaysia last August,” he said.

Solomon noted that Alston’s report, sanctioned by the UN was based on his extensive visits to several states, including Sabah and Sarawak as well as meetings with top federal government officials, international agencies and speaking to people affected by poverty themselves, both in urban and rural areas.

Therefore, he said MTUC strongly urges the federal government to underline its readiness to make the changes needed for the sake of the millions of marginalised people whose plight was ignored by successive governments due to bad policies drawn from inaccurate data.

He added there was creditable evidence that showed the country’s poverty benchmark which was used all these years, failed to capture the reality on the ground and as a result of that, many rakyat-centric policies, especially those meant to provide social protection failed to help the targeted groups.

He observed that the poverty line Index was set at a very low bar, and many households were at risk of falling below the poverty line.

Hence, he believed such low poverty figures cannot be used meaningfully for policy planning purposes to address the continued deprivations experienced and felt by different segments of the Malaysian population.—DayakDaily