KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the government always ensures that every Malaysian enjoys the benefits derived from the growing economy.
The prime minister said, among others, it had helped in registering a stunning reduction in hardcore poverty in the country from 3.8 per cent in 2009 to just 0.4 per cent last year.
In Sabah alone, it had managed to reduce the rate from 19.7 per cent in 2009 to just 2.9 per cent last year, he said.
In his blog entry in the run-up to the tabling of the 2018 Budget, Najib shared the tribulations faced by his administration in tackling the Malaysian economic challenges since taking over the helm of national administration in 2009.
These included the 20-per cent drop in exports, the economy shrank 6.2 per cent, the low wages that failed to compete with inflation, high poverty rate, disparity in income, frequent increases in the toll rates, poor public transportation and the rampant crony capitalism.
Najib said the people’s income per capita had also increased from RM27,819 in 2010 to RM40,713 in 2017, with the monthly median income having increased from RM4,585 in 2014 to RM5,288 in 2016 for a nation with a population of approximately 30 million.
The lower-income group was also not excluded from enjoying the spillover in the increased national economy.
He said there was also an improvement in the B40 household income — which had grown to RM3,000 in 2016 from RM2,629 in 2014.
“As a result, our GINI ratio — which measures income equality — dropped from 0.441 in 2009 to 0.399 last year, the lowest in Malaysia’s history. Malaysia’s income equality has never been better,” he said.
At the same time, the cost of living issues hit those on low incomes the hardest, and this was why the government distributed RM5.36 billion in 1Malaysia People’s Aid, or BR1M, to 7.28 million households in 2016, and the government also introduced the minimum wage, Najib said.
Najib also hit out at a former leader who described BR1M as an abuse of government funds.
“It is frankly cruel-hearted for anyone in the opposition to talk of taking away a programme that is designed to help ease the burden of millions.
“Everything we have done has been for the good of the people. And that includes taking many tough but necessary decisions that were not always popular,” he added.
Najib also shared the development approach taken by his administration which gave priority to more equitable, more inclusive development and improved all sectors of the population and areas in the country.
The focus was not merely on the Klang Valley or the west coast alone, he said, but even more than that which included areas that had been neglected for too long.
Taking the example of Kelantan, it had been sidelined and development funds for the state blocked and its water infrastructure had not been improved for several decades by a former leader because it was ruled by the opposition party, said Najib.
“To me. this is unfair, because clean water is important in our life and it is the right of every Malaysian. As such, we have helped Kelantan with the restructuring of the water supply agreement made last year which will cost more than RM1 billion,” he said.
He said that the need for land communications such as roads, highways and the railway in the state had also been considered by the federal government in order to provide facilities and comfort to the people.
Najib said development including the water needs for the people in the states ruled by the opposition such as Selangor and Penang had also been given priority by his administration.
It was also the same in terms of development needs in Sabah and Sarawak with considerable allocation being given for this purpose by the federal government, he said.
“I endeavour to be fair to all the states – including those under opposition rule,” he added. — Bernama