SENIOR citizen A. Selvarajah’s wallet is set back by at least RM100 each month ever since the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on April 1.
It may not seem a big deal to some but for one who earns a mere RM1,000, that sum equates to a tenth of his monthly salary as a security guard.
“The cost of living has definitely gone up. It is not so much the 6% that is affecting consumers but the profiteering that goes on.
“My regular lunch of curry mutton rice has gone up to RM5.50, sometimes RM6, from RM4.50 previously while a cup of teh tarik now costs 20 sen more.
“And so, I have stopped eating mutton. I eat foods that are cheaper such as chicken or vegetables,” said Selvarajah who will soon be turning 70.
According to Selvarajah, there was no telling if consumers were being charged extra when buying groceries at the market.
“We still have to buy them at whatever price being charged, like it or not,” he said.
A factory worker prior to his retirement, Selvarajah continues to work 12 hours a day to support himself and his 62-year-old wife.
“These days, people need to work into their old age in order to survive.
“My savings in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) have been used up long ago and while my children are willing to take care of us, they have their own families to support as well.
“I strongly believe our Government should do more to help the elderly, such as giving out monthly welfare aid to senior citizens just like in other countries,” he said.
Heart patient Pauline Ong has undergone four angioplasty procedures and survives on a cocktail of medication daily.
“Already, I was paying an arm and a leg for my medication, some of which I have switched to generic form because they cost less.
“Needless to say, my monthly expenditure has gone up significantly with the GST mainly because my heart medications are not tax exempted.
“It is very inconsiderate of the Government to impose a tax on the medication of those with critical illnesses.
“Why punish us for being sick? No one chooses to be sick or to be placed on long-term medication.
“If you can give a personal tax deduction for medical treatment of critical illnesses, why impose GST on such medication?” she asked.
Ong, 64, is now bracing herself for further price increases.
“I am sure drug companies will inevitably increase their prices because of the weakening ringgit.
“With our currency getting weaker and the cost of living geting higher, life is going to be hard, especially for the elderly.
“Next, we are going to see more elderly people begging and living on the streets,” said the single mother, who survives on pocket money from her children.
Anning Old Folks Home adviser Ho You Meng said the cost of running an old folks home would definitely go up with the GST.
“Already, we are getting less donations in cash and in kind because people are struggling to get by.
“This means that we will have to fork out our own money,” he said.
Ho said the home, which has 48 residents, required a lot of adult diapers.
“Eight of our residents rely on adult disposable diapers because they are immobile.
“Each uses six diapers a day, which is a total of 48 diapers,” he said.
Ho, however, said it was premature to tell how badly the home’s operations would be affected by the GST.