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Sunday September 22, 2013 MYT 9:00:00 AM
Sunday September 22, 2013 MYT 10:21:27 AM
by dina murad
Increasing fuel prices means increase in the cost of living
PETALING JAYA: Early this month, the Malaysian government announced a price hike for Ron 95 and diesel fuels against an inflating economy. The domino effect to this is a spike in prices of other household necessities and services.
In addressing the hardest hit by rising costs, RAM Holdings Bhd Group Chief Economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng said that low income groups and wage earners whose salaries do not increase at pace with the rising cost of living will face hardships.
“An increase in household expenditure will have to come from reduced savings or the cutting of non-essential spending such as eating out, travel or leisure activities,” he said.
With the national budget a month away from being announced, The Star Online took to the streets to get public opinions on how people are coping with the economic situation.
Nambee Ragavan, 26, a project executive, said that in his line of work, he is expected to travel regularly and the recent price hike had caused him to incur significant expenses.
“My petrol cost is higher but my claims per kilometre have not changed. When I am out, I also tend to have meals outside and of course, that cost more too,” he said.
Nambee also points out that property prices have risen drastically.
“My parents were able to buy their first house at 24. My friends in the USA were also able to do the same at 23-24. I am almost 26 now and am nowhere close to buying a house,” he said.
Tang Wing Tat, 70, a retiree, said that he has to be more careful of his spending now.
“I have my pension and children to support me. I also teach tuition part time so it does not affect me as much. However, those without stable incomes will feel the pinch,” he said.
Schoolteacher Norbaiti Ramli, 41, notes the increase of her daily expenses after the fuel hike.
“Before, when I filled up RM40 into my tank, I could use my car for 5 days. Now, for the same amount, I run out of fuel in 4. However, if it is a decision made in the best long-term interest of the economy, then I consider it a necessary burden,” she adds.
“There is a heavy impact on fresh graduates,” said Kirueben Visvaraj, 24, who is a travel consultant.
“Prices are going up, the cost of living is increasing but salaries remain the same.
“Saving is very hard for me. I am still learning to manage my expenses and be financially independent. It does not help that first time job seekers generally have low salary starting points,” he explained.
Bardiah Baruh, 54, takes on three jobs to make ends meet. In the morning, she sells kuih, in the afternoon she provides cleaning services and in the evenings, she teaches Quran recital.
“As a low-income household, my family really feels the economic strain. It is not a huge increase in expenditure, but for those with smaller earnings, the impact is quite big,” she said.
PhD student Yau Sim Mei, 36, says that she is not personally affected but others around her are, especially those who are married with children of school-going age.
She adds that at first glace, there is no obvious increase in prices but when the small expenses accumulate, it all adds up to a significant amount.
“Right now, every member of the family has to chip in. Most people won’t be able to handle the economic situation alone,” explained Yau.
“I bought a house 2 to 3 years ago with the help of my mother. If we did not split the purchase, I would be living below poverty level!” she said.
Fareez Zahir, 31, a lawyer, said that he does not foresee being able to buy a house around KL in the next 6-10 years.
“By that time, I will be 40 and a housing loan will be difficult to come by,” he explained.
“We are told to be frugal and to not complain but at the same time, the authorities do not curb their own spending. There are allegations of leakages, corruption, and scandals that run into billions.
“I’m perfectly happy with subsidies being cut if I can be assured that the government is putting the money into the system in a wise manner. As it seems to a man on the street, they are not doing so,” he said.
Tags / Keywords:
Cost of living, economy
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