All it would have take is RM634m a year to eliminate poverty in the country by a direct handout to poor households, says our correspondent.
As mentioned in an earlier post, DPM Muhyiddin proudly boasted of the billions, nay, tens of billions the government had spent on poverty eradication in Sarawak.
We showed that, if true, and if it had been properly managed, and not siphoned off, there should be zero poverty in Sarawak today. That there is still poverty in Sarawak is grim testimony to the corruption, mismanagement and waste.
Now, it turns out that if indeed tens of billions have been spent on poverty eradication, there should also be zero poverty in the whole country — using the simplest of instruments, namely, a direct handout to each and every poor household. That there is still poverty in the country — at the miserly level of the poverty line income — is also grim testimony to the corruption, mismanagement and waste.
Again, the basis for this startling conclusion is available in the Tenth Malaysia Plan.
According to the Tenth Malaysia Plan, the incidence of poverty in the country in 2004 was 5.7 per cent, affecting 311,300 households out of a total of 5,459,300 households. This is counting only citizens.
In that year, the poverty gap index was 1.4 per cent and the average poverty line income was RM691 per month.
On that basis, it would have taken RM634m a year to eliminate poverty by a direct handout to poor households. This seems like a large figure. But divide it by the 311,300 poor households, and it comes out to an average of RM2,036 per household per year. A pairing of 311,300 rich households with the 311,300 poor households, with the former transferring RM2,036 a year — a mere RM170 a month! — to the latter would eliminate poverty, with the rich households not even noticing it!
So, what happened to the tens, if not hundreds of billions supposedly allocated for poverty eradication?
Unwittingly, the DPM, in his chest-thumping, has revealed the incompetency of the BN government. It requires not brilliant transformation, just a simple willingness to direct the funds to the poor and an openness to working with them to determine the measures needed to enable them to raise their incomes sustainably in the longer term.