For Shared Prosperity Vision, Putrajaya banks on upskilling to close income gap

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin


Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Cabinet minsters hold a press conference in Putrajaya September 14, 2019. — Pictures by Firdaus Latif

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 14 — Putrajaya’s economic policies will emphasise raising the skills of low-income earners to help the group catch up with more affluent Malaysians in its Shared Prosperity Vision, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

After an unusual weekend Cabinet meeting here to discuss the matter today, the prime minister said such efforts were necessary to ensure higher income is accompanied by increased productivity for the country.

Dr Mahathir also said there was a need to address disparities between urban and rural Malaysians as well as a widening wealth gap in the country.

“The poor, we found, are too poor compared to the rich, and we need to increase their income but not by just increasing salaries. We need to improve the abilities and skills of our workers for them to become more productive while working at the same place. 

“We will give training to them so that they have the ability that is more efficient and so that they can do more advanced jobs,” he told a press conference today.

The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) will take a leading role towards this goal, he explained.

Recipients of government contracts and approved permits (AP) would also be upskilled to ensure they could directly benefit from these instead of selling them off as is usual, he added.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya September 14, 2019.

The prime minister added that indiscriminately handing out contracts and APs only inflated appearances for short term but did not contribute towards the final goal of uplifting the needy that he said would take time.

“If they are not qualified we will give training to them until they are qualified,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the Cabinet has agreed in principle to these policies and the Economic Affairs Ministry was preparing a White Paper for its consideration.

“We agreed that there is disparity in our country, firstly disparity between states, the difference between the rural and urban, and the bigger disparity between the poor and the rich,” he said. 

The PM identified Kelantan, Perlis and his home state of Kedah as among those considered poor.

On funding for the resulting programmes, Dr Mahathir said the government will divert resources from areas of lower priority but did not elaborate.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali then said the vision will be incorporated into the 12th and 13th Malaysia Plans as well as Budget 2020 due to be tabled next month.

Azmin stressed, however, that the Finance Ministry will be the arbiter of how much funding would go towards the areas supporting the vision.

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