Putrajaya to Revise Poverty Threshold, Admits It’s Out of Date

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Malaysia is in the midst of revising its national poverty line income (PLI) after former UN Special rapporteur Philip Alston criticised its employment of outdated methods of calculation.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mustapa Mohamed said the PLI has been under review since 2018 under the previous government.

“We have already made a decision a long time ago to review the PLI. We know that the ‘2005 methodology’ that was used to decide that the PLI is RM980 for a household was formulated in 2005.


“Because 15 years have passed, definitely it is outdated today,” he said today at the launch of National Census Day in Putrajaya.

The minister in charge of the economy said the new PLI will be announced in the near future.

“With that in mind, during the mid-term presentation of 11MP in Parliament in October 2018, the Statistics Department had already begun work to revise these figures and the findings have been presented in cabinet.

“After I complete several engagement sessions, we should be able to come up with the new figures for the national poverty line.”

The Jeli MP said the per capita income at the time was RM20,000 and that the PLI of RM980 was not longer applicable now that the per capita income stands at RM45,000.

“The 0.4% poverty rate should be higher too,” Mustapa said.

Alston wrote a report for the UN about poverty in Malaysia after an 11-day visit here last year, in which he alleged that Putrajaya had fudged the numbers and failed to address the issue.

The UN subsequently released Putrajaya’s response to Alston’s report.

Putrajaya had maintained that the poverty rate was derived from internationally accepted standards of calculation.

“Malaysia stands by its absolute poverty rate, which was recorded at 0.4% of total households, or 24,700 households, in 2016.

“This poverty rate is derived from internationally accepted standards based on the Canberra Group Handbook on Household Income Statistics, Second Edition (2011), which is published by the UN.

“As such, the assertion made by Professor Alston that there is ‘a statistical sleight of hand that has nefarious consequences’ is wholly unacceptable and irresponsible.” – TMI

Related report: Jul 6, Former UN Rep: PN Govt Backtracking on Commitment to Revise Poverty Line