PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasir has chastised Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz for ignoring structural issues like low wages in his statement that millennials are spending beyond their means. Zafrul recently said that Bank Negara Malaysia had found that 47 percent of youths had high credit card debts and urged youths to “prioritise their purchases”.He also suggested that youths save RM500 a month if they wanted to accumulate RM1 million in EPF savings by the time they were 60 years old.In a statement today, Akmal (above) criticised Zafrul for placing the blame on individuals while failing to recognise the structural and societal factors. “This issue should not be generalised as if all young people today do not know or are irresponsible in managing their finances, without first studying other aspects that contribute to this issue. “The finance minister should have a more empathetic attitude towards this issue.“And put himself in the shoes of young people who are struggling with a lack of job opportunities and job security, high cost of living, having to work more than two jobs and being paid wages that are not proportional to their responsibilities,” he said. The Johor Bahru MP stressed that low and stagnant wages were also key structural problems. He pointed to global asset management firm Mercer survey from 2019 that found salary increases in Malaysia were behind their regional counterparts. “The finance minister should not be reprimanding young people on how to manage their finances when what he (Zafrul) earns is a far cry from what normal people earn.“Instead, he should focus on looking for solutions for the root of this concerning problem to increase the rakyat’s income,” he said. Bank Negara previously found that Malaysian employees had not been adequately compensated for their work when benchmarked against economies like Singapore and Australia. Despite being made up of many labour-intensive industries, the central bank found that the Malaysian economy affords employees a lower share of the national income – 35.2 percent of the GDP – when compared to benchmark economies (52.7 percent).The study also found that there was "insufficient" creation of high-skilled and high-paying jobs.rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrIt thus advocated for labour reforms including the creation of more high-skilled jobs to ensure Malaysian workers were compensated equitably.
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