Padu: Concerns of M40 singles need to be examined - Experts

06 Jan 2024 05:00pm
Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

KUALA LUMPUR - The unmarried professionals residing in the capital city with a gross monthly income of more than RM5,000, categorised as the M40, are often left out from receiving government assistance because they are classified as ineligible.

However, in reality, those in the M40 group with a monthly income of between RM4,851 and RM10,970 are also financially burdened, especially those who are the family’s breadwinners, with having to pay for all the household needs, including the medical expenses for parents and young siblings.

"Some single professionals, despite being unmarried, have to pay for the needs of two houses. One for the house in Kuala Lumpur and also for the one their parents are residing in the village. This can be stressful if the Central Database Hub (Padu) system does not take into account the burden facing the M40 singles," said private sector employee Suraya Ali, 37.

Many M40s breathed a sigh of relief with the launch of the portal system as it guarantees that they will not be left out as Padu takes into account their monthly household expenses, dependents and cost of living according to locations and is not based on B40, M40 and T20 classification.

However, there are complaints among the single M40s, especially those who have large responsibilities when filling up the required information in the portal as they are not comprehensive and need to be improved.

Several experts interviewed by Bernama are of the view that some specific details related to 'total dependents' and the term 'household' need to be re-examined.

Otherwise, there is the risk of single M40s with high commitment and are eligible to receive subsidies and assistance may be left out due to incomplete information provided, said an economist at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UniRazak) Prof Dr Barjoyai Bardai.

This is because, households are classified as those living in one house using the same allocation for utility payments, kitchen needs and daily life, while the concern is for those who live separately and have many dependents.

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"What is needed is a space that details the financial situation of every person registered in Padu so that the unique aspects of the financial situation can be taken into account and addressed to solve the financial problems of every family.

"If this can be done, then it can be said that the Madani government truly cares for the well-being of its people. Regulations and policies can be modified according to the specific needs of each household without the need to establish general rules about the definition of household and family," he said.

The need for detailed information was raised by the Head of Graduate Programmes, Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Associate Prof. Dr Ku Suhaila Ku Johari during a counselling session attended mostly by single M40s.

She said based on several studies the single M40s are more comfortable being alone than getting married due to the huge commitments of a married life.

"It is subjective. We may think that the M40 singles are happy, as they don't have children to send to nurseries or child care centres and so on, but some family heads have parents and siblings to support even though they may not be staying in the same house.

"As such, I believe that the Padu system needs to be further refined for groups like this because they fear they may not be eligible with the government announcing to implement targeted subsidies," she added.

Based on the data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), the percentage of unmarried women in the age group of 25 to 29 increased to 37.8 per cent in 2010 compared to 29.8 per cent in 2000.

Nevertheless, the government is committed to ensuring that the deserving groups are not left, including the M40, who were previously 'overlooked', from receiving incentives through Padu, said Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Student and Alumni Affairs, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Prof Dr Ahmad Martadha Mohamed.

He said many of those in the M40 group are pressured by the challenges of life and the increasing cost of living after the Covid-19 pandemic.

"There should be no more classification of B40, M40 and T20 in determining the distribution of aid and subsidies given that the M40 group living in cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, and Penang are increasingly pressured from the impact of Covid-19.

"Considering that their salary increase is not as fast as the increase in living cost and price of goods, Padu is the answer that the M40 has been waiting for,” he said.

Padu was developed with internal expertise in the Economy Ministry, Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) and Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), with the cooperation and support of various ministries, agencies and state governments.

The safe and comprehensive national data hub to prevent dropouts in the distribution of government aid and subsidies was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim last Tuesday.

The system can also avoid leakage in the provision of aid and subsidies as studies found that the previous distribution of subsidies did not fully reach the target group. - BERNAMA