PUTRAJAYA, May 18 – Elements contributing to the rising cost of living in the urban areas, specifically involving food items, housing and transportation must be studied first to tackle urban poverty comprehensively and effectively, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said this was in line with the typical household spending pattern, namely, highest spending is on food followed by transportation and housing.
In a statement issued after chairing a High-Level Committee (HLC) Meeting on Tackling Urban Poverty here today, Ahmad Zahid said the combination of the three elements alone would use up two-thirds of the household income.
“Urban poverty, which is quite a critical issue currently, is a direct impact of the hike in the cost of living.
“The high cost of living in the urban areas results in the urban poor becoming more stressed out compared to the rural poor,” he said.
The HLC meeting focused on discussion to formulate specific strategies to tackle urban poverty holistically.
Eight consideration papers and four notification papers were discussed in which a number of decisions and recommendations of short, medium and long-term solutions were agreed upon to be implemented in an integrated manner by the relevant ministries and government agencies.
Ahmad Zahid said the meeting agreed to implement several strategies including optimally boosting domestic output and efficient and effective distribution of supplies to tackle price increases of goods.
He said a joint committee among ministries would be set up to study the cost of production and the costs along the distribution chain to prevent price manipulations by middlemen.
The deputy prime minister said the government was also prepared to study the recommendations on the implementation of food aid for the urban poor involving various ministries via a National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) approach and the participation of hypermarket chains in preparing frozen food for the urban hardcore poor.
If the programme is successful, the approach will be extended to tertiary institutions via the cooked food programme, with the food sold at reasonable prices to students, especially in major towns, and where its implementation will utilise ex-students as operators or workers.
Ahmad Zahid said the government also intended to set up one-stop centres in poor communities which would become reference centres to numerous agencies to help the group.
He said the government would undertake a household supply need information gathering study via house ownership and rental data to enable the government to identify housing needs and trends in home prices based on specific locations.
Among the ministers involved in the meeting were Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim.