High-paying jobs way out of poverty


KUCHING: The best way out of poverty is through well-paying jobs, which means the government needs to increase domestic and foreign investments to create good-paying jobs.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) Honorary Professor Datuk Dr Madeline Berma said the government should consider employment subsidies to help long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged workers to re-enter the labour force.

“The government can subsidise employers for part of their workers’ wages, subject to specific conditions, especially in the post-COVID-19 epidemic phase.

“Such (subsidy) programmes will provide more job opportunities to poor families, particularly those who have experienced barriers to employment, left behind in the job market and affected by the impact of COVID-19,” she told New Sarawak Tribune.

Madeline, who is also an Academy of Sciences Malaysia fellow, said by providing employment subsidy to businesses, it would temporarily help hard-hit businesses in Sarawak, address labour shortage problems and boost the local economy.

Apart from good-paying jobs, she said, it was necessary to raise the productive capacity of the poor or low income families.

“For instance, for recipients of government financial assistance, there is a need to impose a requirement that one family member must attend skill-reskill-upskill programmes.

“We also need to empower people living in poverty by involving them in designing development plans or implementation programmes to reduce and eradicate poverty effectively.

“Their involvement will ensure these programmes are relevant and reflect those things that are really important to them,” she added.

Madeline was commenting on how to alleviate poverty in Sarawak after it was reported the highest increases in poverty rates were recorded in Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan and Kedah.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said this was due to inequality and imbalanced development across the country in terms of wealth, income, education and infrastructure.

“The issue of poverty eradication remains high, if not one of the main priorities, on the government’s agenda,” The Edge quoted him as saying during the launch of the World Bank Group’s Malaysia Economic Monitor report in Kota Kinabalu recently.

Mustapa said the government, spearheaded by the Economic Planning Unit and Implementation Coordination Unit, planned to make the economy more inclusive and eradicate hardcore poverty.

Though Malaysia aspires to be a high-income nation by 2025, the fruits of prosperity, however, were often inequitably divided.

He said that under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), the government aimed to reduce the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita gap between Peninsular Malaysia’s central region and Sabah from 2.7 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

It also aims to reduce the GDP per capita gap between Peninsular Malaysia’s central region and Sarawak from 1.3 per cent to 1.2 per cent.

Madeline, who is also an economist, said Sarawak needed more mega projects, including infrastructure development, and mass transit or public transport.

“Lastly, education is important, especially for those in the rural areas. Thus, the government should establish a lost-learning fund – to assist students in the interior areas to “catch up” and mitigate learning loss,” she added.

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