Govt policies should reflect new poverty line, says MTUC

THE Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today lauded Putrajaya’s decision to revise the poverty line index (PLI), raising it to RM2,208 from RM980, but fell short of the suggested RM2,700.

Its secretary-general J. Solomon said the RM2,208 benchmark is less than the RM2,700 monthly income MTUC had suggested as the minimum living wage, especially in urban areas.

“The new national poverty index of RM2,208 can be further improved to cater for the high cost of living in urban areas where 75% of Malaysians are employed, with many of them on low paying jobs and saddled with high household debts due to the spiralling cost of living.

“Bank Negara Malaysia had estimated that up to 27% of the households living in Kuala Lumpur are earning below the living wage.”

With the revised poverty line, he said for at least four years, Putrajaya had failed to address the needs of millions of people who were living in poverty but were not recognised as poor.

“MTUC hopes with the new PLI, it will bring effective public policies that will create jobs and enable workers to have better wages, more disposable income as well as increase their EPF savings for retirement.

“We call on the relevant ministries and public agencies to give top priority to Mustapa Mohamad’s (minister in the Prime Minister’s Department) call that they pay heed to the 2019 PLI in reviewing and formulating policies related to poverty eradication and social assistance.

“The government must now acknowledge that the minimum wage of RM1,100-RM1,200, especially for urban areas, is not realistic nor in tandem with the cost of living. As the poverty index is now set at more than RM2,000, surely the minimum wage must be adjusted accordingly,” he said.

Solomon added that income inequality is widening and must be addressed.

“It must not be left to ‘market forces’ or other lame excuses often offered by employers and politicians.

“The wealth disparity in Malaysia has grown wider, as workers’ share of the nation’s prosperity has been reduced to almost nothing despite being the front liners in building this country.” – July 11, 2020


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