El­e­vat­ing B40 house­holds to a mid­dle-class so­ci­ety

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ - BY EE ANN NEE

KUALA LUMPUR: It is timely that the coun­try shifts its fo­cus to the bot­tom 40% house­hold in­come group (B40), with Malaysia’s poverty al­most erad­i­cated at 0.6%, said Eco­nomic Plan­ning Unit deputy di­rec­tor-general of hu­man cap­i­tal Jo­han Mer­i­can.

He said the in­come gap in Malaysia has nar­rowed over the last five years and the in­come growth of B40 stood at 13%, com­pared to the T20 and M40 groups of 8%-9%.

“We’re nar­row­ing the gap, re­duc­ing in­equal­ity in Malaysia. We’re see­ing a re­duc­tion in terms of in­come in­equal­ity be­tween the ru­ral and ur­ban groups, as well as be­tween eth­nic groups,” Jo­han said at the End Poverty Cam­paign here yes­ter­day.

Up­lift­ing the B40 house­holds to­wards a mid­dle-class so­ci­ety is one of the fo­cus ar­eas in the 11th Malaysia Plan.

The World Bank Group has called for poli­cies that work, in­clud­ing in­vest­ing in chil­dren, health, in­fra­struc­ture and mak­ing money work for the poor.

“These has been con­sis­tent with Malaysia’s de­vel­op­ment pol­icy. The largest part of our Bud­get al­lo­ca­tion has al­ways gone to­wards hu­man cap­i­tal, ed­u­ca­tion, health­care and in­fra­struc­ture, which has been the back­bone of the gov­ern­ment’s pro-growth poli­cies,” Jo­han told re­porters.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank Poverty and Shared Pros­per­ity re­port 2016: “Tak­ing on In­equal­ity”, there is good global progress in re­duc­ing ex­treme poverty and shar­ing pros­per­ity. There is also un­prece­dented re­duc­tion in global in­come in­equal­ity.

Yet, progress is in­suf­fi­cient to end poverty by 2030 given cur­rent global growth pro­jec­tions, un­less in­equal­ity de­clines faster.

The re­port re­vealed that the B40 had pos­i­tive in­come growth in 60 of the 83 coun­tries mon­i­tored. In 49 of these coun­tries, B40 in­comes grew faster than the top 60s. Two thirds of the world’s pop­u­la­tion live in coun­tries where in­comes gaps have nar­rowed.

From left: World Bank Poverty Eq­uity Global Prac­tice se­nior econ­o­mist Ken­neth Sim­ler, Jo­han and World Bank De­vel­op­ment Re­search Group Lead So­cial De­vel­op­ment spe­cial­ist Michael Wool­cock speak­ing to the press in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

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