Malaysia has revised its national poverty line income (PLI) from RM980 to RM2,208, raising it by more than twice its previous level. This was announced by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) during the reveal of the Household Income And Basic Amenities Survey Report 2019 last week.
According to the chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, the new PLI was calculated based on an updated 2019 methodology that emphasised healthy and optimal food intake and quality non-food basic needs. Previously, it was based upon the 2005 methodology, which focused on the minimum food and non-food requirements instead.
“From the aspect of food items, before this we looked more towards the concept of ‘minimum’, but this time we stress on the discussion with the Health Ministry – optimum and healthy and quality, and it is based on the 2017 Recommended Nutrient Intake and the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines,” said Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir.
DOSM also increased the number of non-food essentials from the previous 106 items to 146 items for the new methodology, taking into consideration changes in household spending patterns as well as prices of current goods and services.
Separately, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), said that with the PLI revision, the country’s poverty rate has increased from 0.4% in 2016 (24,700 households) to 5.6% (405,441 households) in 2019. However, he went on to clarify that if the 2019 methodology had been applied for the 2016 calculations, the poverty rate back then would have been 7.6% (525,743 households) instead of 0.4%.
“This means that, if measured using the new PLI methodology, the country’s poverty has decreased by two percentage points from 7.6% in 2016 to 5.6% in 2019. This clearly shows the poverty eradication programmes and initiatives carried out by the government, supported by various parties such as non-governmental and private bodies, have yielded good results,” said Datuk Seri Mustapa.
Datuk Seri Mustapa also said that efforts to improve the PLI calculation methodology are an indication of the government’s determination, concern, and transparency in better serving the people. He further added that the right statistics will help the government establish more accurate policies, strategies, and approaches for each target group that requires assistance.