AS Budget 2017 nears, it will become the main topic of discussion among Malaysians in the days ahead.
The main objective of the coming budget should be and must be focusing on ways to reduce people’s cost of living.
Without a doubt, the cost of living among Malaysians has increased lately.
While the impact of higher living costs is not being felt significantly by high income Malaysians, those from the lower income groups are certainly feeling the current economic uncertainly which has affected Malaysia and the whole world.
With the recent introduction of new rates for public transport services, increases in toll rates, as well as the implementation of GST more than a year ago, the lives of people, especially those in the lower income group in our country, have been affected.
The sudden inceases in prices seem like an epidemic in our country.
The government needs to map out holistic and effective plans to cope with it.
More special vouchers or discount cards should be introduced in the coming budget to ease the financial burden of the people especially groups and individuals like senior citizens, disabled people, school and university students, single mothers and others.
The time is also right for the government to consider seriously increasing workers wages as well as amending the current existing law to increase the minimum wages for all workers in our country.
Malaysians are greatly concerned with the development of our economy.
As such, the government should continue its efforts to bolster the nation’s economy and provide the people with more and fairer opportunities to secure a higher standard of living in line with their commitment to become a high income nation by the year 2020.
In the meantime, stern legal action needs to be taken against any irresponsible individual or traders making unreasonable profits by taking advantage of the current economic uncertainty from the consumer as provided under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 (Act 723) and Goods and Services Tax Act 2014 (Act 762).
Consumers also need to use their power to make immediate complaints to relevant agencies under the Domestic Trade, Co-Operatives and Consumerism Ministry.
They should boycott any irresponsible individuals or traders who are taking advantage of them .
They should work together with the government, NGOs and consumer associations to find effective ways to tackle the financial challenges in the coming year and reduce the burden of the higher living costs.
DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW
Faculty of Syariah and Law Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia