MINISTER in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed had a dialogue session yesterday to discuss ways to raise the income earning capacity and opportunities for the people in the region.
Various key stakeholders, academicians, government agencies and entrepreneurs in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) participated in the dialogue.
The dialogue was jointly organised by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC).
The minister called for the dialogue following the government’s revision of the national poverty line income (PGK) to RM2,208 from the previous RM980 in July.
Several basic components were taken into consideration during the revision, which are food needs, non-food needs and household characteristics, as well as its price differences between states, strata (urban/rural) and location.
“As much as ECER has progressed, the East Coast states are still lagging socio-economically compared to the West Coast states,” Mustapa said in a Sept 12 note.
“With the redefinition of the national poverty line, we need to recalibrate and set out comprehensive strategies and plans to further develop ECER to enhance the well-being of the people, especially those in B40 group,” he added.
Although Malaysia’s poverty rate improving to 5.6% in 2019 (compared to 7.61% in 2016), the east coast states have among the highest poverty levels in the nation.
According to ECERDC, the current poverty rate in ECER states increased to 4.3% to 12.4%.
“ECER is still lagging behind its west coast counterpart. To reduce this gap, there is still much to be done in terms of attracting more investment, infrastructure development, human capital development and job creation in high value-added industries,” ECERDC said today.
Meanwhile, ECERDC CEO Baidzawi Che Mat believes that human capital development is one of the key drivers in transforming ECER into a high-income developed region.
“To encourage the people’s participation in ECER’s economic growth, various human capital development programmes are being implemented by ECERDC,” he said.
These programmes include ‘empower ECER’, ‘entrepreneur ECER’ and ‘ECER Talent Enhancement Programme (ETEP).
“(The programmes) will be further enhanced to empower them with the right skills, knowledge and mindset to embrace the new economic opportunities arising in the region,” he added.