PETALING JAYA: Malaysians are better off this year than they were the last year, according to a recent study.
Conducted by discount site Picodi, the study shows that the current minimum wage stands at RM1,050, compared with RM950 in 2019.
This RM100 increase outpaced any rise in the average prices of basic necessities.
It said that a basket of basic necessities, comprising 10 litres of milk, 10 loaves of bread, 1.5kg of rice, 20 eggs, 1kg of cheese, 6kg of poultry or beef, fruits and 8kg of vegetables cost RM343.87 now, accounting for 32.4% of the average monthly income of a Malaysian household.
For the survey, the expenses for poultry and beef were estimated at RM114.81 and RM46.94 for fruits.
But at last year’s prices, the same basket of goods would have taken out 37.2% of the same household’s income.
Picodi concluded that the increase in wages had outpaced any increase in the prices of goods.
This ranked Malaysia 35th among 54 countries surveyed for the best food prices in relation to the minimum wage.
Australia takes top position on the list. Each household spent only 7% of its monthly income on basic necessities. The United Kingdom and Ireland were tied in second at 7.33%, followed by the Netherlands at 8.6%.
But Malaysia tops several countries in the Asian region. Vietnam came in at 46th place with 50.2%, followed by Thailand at 47th place (51.6%), India at 49th place with 59.6% and the Philippines at 52nd place with 75.11%.
In the same survey, Malaysia came out 20th among the same 54 countries for year-to-year increase in minimum wage.
“The monthly net pay (in 2020) is 9.1% higher than in the previous year. That is RM1,059.95 compared with RM971.65 for a full-time employee,” the report said.
However, economist Kuperan Viswanathan pointed out that other expenditures that should have been included were utilities and transport, which could add up to about RM200 and another RM200 for health and education.
Kuperan, who is a professor at the Othman Yeop Abdullah Graduate School of Business at Universiti Utara Malaysia, told theSun that a decent income for a household with two adults should be about RM3,000.
He also pointed out that the overall benefits to the economy, if the minimum wage was raised to RM1,500, would be much bigger than any loss to employers.
“The total wages in an economy has to be larger to ensure better distribution of the total national product of the nation,” he said, adding that Malaysia is becoming poorer in terms of real purchasing power compared with several other Asian countries.