Brunei urged to start identifying poverty line

National 2 minutes, 15 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE president of the Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM) has called on the government to establish a poverty line as failure to do so might worsen the poverty situation.

In an interview, Datin Paduka Hjh Intan Hj Md Kassim said a poverty line will enable authorities to collect accurate data on those living in poverty.

“The establishment of the poverty line should also be accompanied with studies on the root causes of poverty, and the breakdown of the age group of population under this poverty line.

“Knowing all these will allow authorities to design poverty alleviation programmes that target these vulnerable people,” she added.

The president also questioned the inexistence of a poverty line in Brunei.

“Are we denying that there are poor people who are in poverty or are we scared of the reality? If we are scared of the reality now, things will not improve itself, as a society we will go down further.”

In October last year, the Department of Economic Planning and Development had said it is conducting a study on Minimum Cost of Basic Needs, a method that is normally used to define a poverty line.

The Minimum Cost of Basic Needs will provide the public and agencies a better understanding of the minimum cost of living in Brunei.

The survey covers about 3,000 households in all four districts. The survey will be conducted for one year and is estimated to be completed by March 31, 2016.

Datin Hjh Intan said the establishment of a poverty line will also reflect the type of society the government would like to have in the future.

“My view is that if we set the poverty line too low, then our expectation will be to have a poor community. People always say that poverty is relative and in Brunei there is no absolute poverty.

“My question is do we want to see absolute poverty in Brunei before we take action?”

She continued: Do we want absolute poverty to set our standard for the future generation?”

Another previous report in October last year quoting the Community Development Department’s (JAPEM) acting director said poverty eradication in Brunei is managed through multiple initiatives.

Hjh Noridah Hj Abdul Hamid had said the government has come up with various initiatives such as social support, poverty management as well as poverty eradication.

“They cover areas of interest ranging from prevention of poverty to helping them cope with poverty, and lastly by empowering them to break away from the vicious cycle of poverty,” she said.

JAPEM aids the needy in Brunei through its monthly welfare benefits.

The department said there were 6,296 heads of households who rely on government welfare as of September 2014.

The Brunei Times