Support In Developing National B40 Action Plan Using Innovative Bottom-Up Approaches

What is the project about?

B40 workshop with PWD in Putrajaya (3)

This project is set up with the objective of developing a comprehensive action plan to address the increasing cost of living and its impact on the wellbeing of B40 households through a bottom-up consultative process to get on-the-ground views and perspectives on the current cost of living issues and possible specific interventions. Based on this, specific action-oriented and game-changing interventions for the B40 communities will be identified and developed through further consultations and engagements with relevant stakeholders including ministries, academia and civil society organisations (CSOs).

The main deliverable of this project is the development of a B40 Action Plan which comprises of two (2) components:

a)   Specific interventions to address issues pertaining to cost of living and quality of B40 households’ livelihood; and

b)   Specific game-changing interventions to increase the income and economic potential of B40 households.

The B40 Action Plan will be developed through a special collaborative arrangement between EPU, UNDP and UKM. While EPU will be the overall coordinator in ensuring the project is delivered according to its objectives, UNDP will be responsible in delivering the policy content including supporting logistical arrangement, financial management and overall implementation of the project; and UKM will be assigned to assist in mobilizing the B40, facilitating consultations and in reporting.

The B40 Action Plan will be developed based on the strategies outlined in Chapter 3 of the 11MP. A series of engagements and comprehensive studies will be undertaken to ensure the B40 Action Plan developed is specific, sustainable, achievable and high impact. The B40 Action Plan will outline the immediate actions to be undertaken by relevant ministries/agencies as well as the expected outputs and outcomes.


What is the current situation?

B40 workshop with Indigenous Community Penderas Village Ulu Slim Malaysia (5)


One of the focus areas in 11MP is to uplift the B40 households towards middle-income society. It is a game changer in the sense that its approach moves beyond income to look at broader multidimensional improvements that include wealth creation, education and skills. The targets are to double the B40 mean income (RM2,537 in 2014) and median income (RM2,629 in 2014) in 2020; increase the percentage with tertiary educational attainment from 9% in 2014 to 20% in 2020; and increase the income share from 16.5% in 2014 to 20% in 2020. This will be achieved through the three main strategies in the Chapter 3 of 11MP; (i) to raise the income and wealth of the B40 households; (ii) address the increasing cost of living; and (iii) enhance the delivery system of B40 household programmes.

The B40 are measured as households that earn a household income of RM3,855 and below in 2014. As stated above, the B40 have a mean income of RM2,537 and a median income of RM2,629. Between 2009 and 2014, the increase in expenditure has outstripped the increase in income for the B40 in both urban and rural areas, asserting more pressure on their cost of living and general wellbeing. Furthermore, the B40 have low wealth and non-financial asset ownership, vulnerable to economic shocks and highly dependent on government assistance. In 2014, the B40 households can be further disaggregated into 80.7% male-headed households and 19.3% female-headed households. In the Malaysia Human Development Report, one of the key findings is that female-headed households would experience relative income deprivation more acutely.

Issues and Challenges

The cost of living has become a major concern among the rakyat particularly among the bottom 40% household. The rakyat’s main concerns centre on the rising cost of affordable housing, education, healthcare etc. The removal of fuel subsidies, weakening global economy, tumbling currency has exacerbated the rising cost of living, which is bound to be the largest concern among Malaysians. Many Malaysians believe that the Government’s measures to ease the burden of the lower income households through Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) cash handouts and improved price regulations are insufficient to cope with price increases and the effect of the introduction of GST. The rakyat believe that more interventions by the Government are necessary to enable them to face the increasing cost of living. On the other hand, there are views that the Government needs to help Malaysians to better manage their income and improve financial management.

Based on Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) Report on house affordability, the Malaysian housing market was deemed “seriously unaffordable” with the median house price at 4.4 times the median income. It also labelled the housing market in Kuala Lumpur and Penang as “severely unaffordable” with 5.4 times and 5.2 times the median income, respectively. In most developing countries including Malaysia, out-of-pocket payments for healthcare have increased dramatically. While public healthcare is generally cheap in Malaysia, the long waiting lines and comfortability are among its main pressing issues to be mitigated. The option for private healthcare is burdensome to most Malaysians due to increasing cost of drugs, technology, the increase in minimum wages as well as the imposing of new rules and standards that impact the cost of private healthcare.

Every year, over 200,000 students graduate from institutions of higher learning. A quarter of graduates remain unemployed for six (6) months, with the majority being degree holders. The degree holders make up 35% of unemployed graduates. Despite a more competitive job market, attaining tertiary education is no longer free for low income households. It poses a greater challenge for households to increase income and improve their quality of life. The low income/wage pressure coupled with increasing cost of living has affected the standard of living and quality of life of the low income households, besides ending their economic potential.

What have we accomplished so far?

B40 workshop with Indigenous Community Penderas Village Ulu Slim Malaysia (4)

Currently, as of September 26, 2016, we have completed two workshops for the PWD group which was held in Putrajaya and the Indigenous Communities, held in Kampung Penderas, Ulu Slim.

Further workshops will be held in the North, East, Central and South Regions of Peninsula Malaysia as well as workshops in Sabah and Sarawak. The workshops will be completed by mid-November 2016.

These workshops use Open Space Methodology. The Open Space methodology uses an unconventional consultation technique, in which there are no pre-planned discussion topics or pre-set event formats that participants need to observe. While the event is guided by an overarching central theme, in an Open Space forum, all participants have the liberty to suggest topics and self-organise into groups according to those topics they are most passionate and concerned about. It enables groups of various sizes to address complex and important issues (i.e. conflicts, diversity of thoughts, etc.) in a short period of time through conversation and sharing of ideas and experiences. Unlike in conventional forums, the open space facilitators’ role is to ensure the group discussion starts and that participants know how to self-facilitate (i.e. dividing into smaller groups).

Who finances it?

B40 workshop with PWD in Putrajaya (4)

Total resources required: USD 390,000        

Total allocated resources:      

·       Government Cost Sharing

(inclusive GMS): USD 390,000


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