KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — Policies are needed that foster workers’ productive employment such as enhanced opportunities for training and lifelong learning, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
He said such policies will allow Malaysians to work longer, live a longer healthier life, with less physically demanding occupations, and with more digitally-enabled work places.
“The realization of productive and inclusive aging requires policies that build on solid evidence.
“As in nearly all high-income countries, longer working lives will, in turn, require gradual adjustments to the age when most Malaysians retire,” he said in his opening remarks when launching the World Bank report, “A Silver Lining: Productive and Inclusive Aging for Malaysia” here today.
Based on the report, more than seven per cent of the country’s population will be aged 65 and above in 2020 which means Malaysia is becoming an aging society.
The rate of aging will increase in the coming years and the share of the population aged 65 and above is projected to double to 14 percent by 2044 and to reach 20 percent by 2056.
Mustapa said the provision of minimum income protection for older Malaysians requires further improvements in the coverage and adequacy of social insurance schemes.
“EPF’s i-Saraan scheme and SOCSO’s Self Employment Social Security Scheme point in the right direction, but there remains scope for strengthening linkages between these schemes, and for further collaboration with industry associations.
“However, even with such proactive measures, it is unlikely that social insurance schemes will be able to cover the entire labour force,” he said.
Thus, a modest, broadly targeted tax-financed social pension may also be required, he added.
“As any increase in fiscal expenditures may be challenging in the context of the fiscal shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, the provision of minimum income protection of older workers, will require a mixture of public policy measures, on both the expenditure and revenue sides,” he said.
Mustapa noted that for the aged care sector to become a new driver of economic growth, it will be crucially important to create an enabling market and regulatory environment for private aged care provision, and to strategically reorient public financing towards home and community-based aged care.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also be crucial to continuously improve the aged care infrastructure, and service standards to ensure the health and safety of residents of aged care homes,” he said.