BEFORE the 14th General Election, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was blamed for causing prices of goods to spiral. Promises were made during the GE14 election campaigns to abolish GST so that prices would come down.
It’s been nine months since we have a new government in place and GST has been abolished, but most of us continue to struggle to keep up with the high cost of living.
In fact, the situation has become worse with wages being kept artificially low and the weak value of our ringgit compared to major currencies, especially the US dollar.
One of the aims of the newly-created Economic Action Council (EAC) is to look into the high cost of living, but there is doubt that it would be able to solve the issue.
We are sure the government knows that by increasing wages, cost of living problems could be mitigated, but at the same time, we risk losing our export competitiveness.
The government knows that by strengthening the value of the ringgit, imported inflation can be checked since we depend a lot on food imports; but we risk losing revenue at the same time.
The government knows we are trapped in an unfavourable situation and we expect it to be honest and come clean on the issue.
The Prime Minister has previously said that raising wages is not a good idea as cost of goods would rise in tandem.
But don’t we already have the Price Control and Anti Profiteering Act to check this? It would be easy to determine if there are elements of profiteering.
It is also surprising that there is no representation from the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry. Who else in the government would be able to appreciate the pulse of the people better than those at this ministry, which deals with consumer issues on a daily basis?
The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry becomes the convenient target of people when discussing price issues, but when it comes to decision-making, they are left out with equal convenience. We don’t think this is being fair and honest!
What the country desperately needs is a robust policy framework capable of increasing the disposable income of people in the B40 and M40 category.
Those in the B40 category could be further supported with social security initiatives while the rich can be taxed higher.
And please stop telling us that the country is laden with debt.
DARSHAN SINGH DHILLON
Malaysia Consumers Movement