0.6%, or around 3,500, of Malaysian Indian households are defined as poor. At the same time, nearly 22,700 Malaysian Indian households earn below RM1,000 a month. 80% of Malaysian Indian households earning below the PLI are living and working in urban areas. Currently, Malaysia sets its Poverty Line Income (PLI) – the level of income necessary for an average-sized household to meet the above basic needs – at RM950 a month.
Key Issues & Current Interventions
- Nearly 30,600 Malaysian Indian households are registered in the eKasih database. This represents around 5% of the total number of households registered in the database. There have been periodic outreach efforts to register Malaysian Indian households into the database.
- There are two types of assistance targeted to households below the poverty line: welfare support to cover day-today expenses and capacity-building assistance to uplift recipients out of poverty. Nearly 123,000 Malaysian Indians or an estimated 25,000 households have received support from welfare programs such as KAR1SMA under the Department of Social Welfare.
- Malaysian Indian participation in capacity-building programs targeted at poor households is underrepresentative. To reduce the gap, SEDIC has supplemented these programs by funding NGOled skills training and income generation projects targeted at poor Malaysian Indian households, though coverage is limited. final key issue is program design and effectiveness. There is also a high risk that program participants would fall back into poverty due to an inability to withstand shocks from inadequate financial management.
- According to an IB40 survey undertaken by the Blueprint Secretariat, only 10% of the IB40 households that earn below RM1,000 a month has long-term savings. Separately, 84% of IB40 households earning below RM1K a month do not have sufficient savings to support 3 months’ living expenses.
Moving Forward: Recommendations & Initiatives
In order to achieve the targets, the Blueprint proposes to undertake the following:
1. eKasih and welfare assistance registration campaign
Working together with ICU and Department of Social Welfare (“DOSW”), the MIB Implementation Unit will undertake a targeted awareness and outreach campaign, through community-relevant channels, to identify and register poor Malaysian Indian households into the eKasih registry, with follow-ups to prioritise selection for welfare assistance.
2. Redesign, testing and refinement of income generation programs
In partnership with the Department of Social Welfare, the MIB Implementation Unit will pilot the redesign, testing and refining of income generation initiatives in neighbourhoods with a high density of Indian poor/IB40.
3. Seed and support savings habit
A RM500 mil PNB unit trust seed fund will be established to supplement the savings of B40 households, particularly those below the poverty line.