Gap between five richest states, nine others is getting wider – Economist

The gap between the richest state (Selangor) and the poorest (Kelantan) is getting bigger, RM2,593 in 2009 to RM6,369 in 2022. Income growth is slow and remains low in the nine states”

(NST) – Special attention needs to be given to the nine states that recorded a level of growth and income that are lower than the median national income considering the current data shows that the gap with the other five states is widening and worrying, said an economist.

Profesor Tan Sri Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali, who is director of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Malaysian Inclusive Development and Advancement Institute (MINDA-UKM), said about 49 per cent of the Malaysian population live in the nine states, which are Terengganu, Negri Sembilan, Sarawak, Pahang, Perlis, Sabah, Perak, Kedah and Kelantan.

“The annual income data also shows a widening gap. The gap between the richest state (Selangor) and the poorest (Kelantan) is getting bigger, RM2,593 in 2009 to RM6,369 in 2022. Income growth is slow and remains low in the nine states,” he said.

According to the latest Department of Statistics Malaysia data issued last month, the current median household income in Malaysia is RM6,338 while the average household income is RM8,479.

Household income comprise of income from salary, self employment and income from investment.

Noor Azlan said the the development and income gap between the five leading states, that are labelled the locomotive states, and the other nine states is worrying.

“The economic growth and development must be inclusive. Every state, every citizen has to enjoy them. I am confident this is among the thrusts of the Madani economy.

“Special state development plans is needed, the state annual budgets are not enough. Besides the national master and sectoral development plans, we must give special attention to each state, especially the states that need to catch up to the locomotive states.

“Special development plans to the states are very important. The locomotive states and territories should be complacent and need to continue to grow. Make sure that the locomotive nature is sustainable and everybody can benefit,” he said.

The five states, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Johor and Melaka, are labelled locomotive states because they recorded level of growth and income that is higher than the national average.

About 62 per cent of Malaysia’s gross domestic products are contributed by the five states, which are in the high growth and income zone.

Noor Azlan said special state growth and development targets need to be announced to the public while the implementation and progress must be monitored and reported.

“The state leadership must lead and be responsible. Not necessarily to match the locomotive states or territories but enough to just reduce the gap according to a plan and to match it one day,” he said.

He added that the state strategic development plans must be created and the cooperation between the federation and the states must be strengthened while the Economic Ministry must not be Putrajaya-centric.

“As an economist, I urge everybody to work together for economic development, the political differences can’t be a barrier for economic development as the people will suffer,” he said.