Ways to ease cost of living


WE are glad that a new unity government is in place after the 15th General Election, and congratulate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on his appointment as the 10th Prime Minister.

Keeping politicians from coalitions of various ideologies together would no doubt be very challenging, but we are confident that the new PM, backed by years of political experience, will be able to do the job while steering the nation back to economic stability.

We commend the PM for his immediate focus on tackling the high cost of living and hope that with the support of a dedicated team of experienced civil servants, the government will develop new strategies to tackle this long-standing issue.

Following are some thoughts on how to address the challenges.

1. Political stability: We hope politicians in the unity government will put the nation’s interest above their own. According to the Finance Ministry, our nation’s economy continued its recovery momentum with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2022 growing by 8.9%, exceeding the 5.0% recorded in the first quarter and outperforming the economic achievements of several developed and regional countries. This growth must be sustained, and for that to happen, political stability is a key enabling factor.

2. Fight corruption: There must be real commitment and strong political will to fight corruption. Corruption deters investment, suffocates economic growth, undermines the rule of law and adds on to costs, which will ultimately be borne by the rakyat.

3. Austerity measures: The government must implement austerity measures focusing on plugging leakages and spending only on projects that will benefit the nation. There must be transparency in governance. You cannot tell consumers to adjust their lifestyle to cope with the high cost of living when the government itself continues to waste resources. This is unfair!

4. Market competition: The Malaysian Competition Commission must step up its market surveillance activities to weed out anti-competition business practices. Monopolies are detrimental to consumers. Offenders must be prosecuted, and hefty fines imposed. Long-term implementation of price controls must also be strategically reviewed because it directly suffocates the principles of free trade, stifling innovation and growth strategies.

Instead, the government must identify critical economic sectors and formulate policies to encourage greater participation and ultimately reduce dependency on a limited number of manufacturers or suppliers. Efforts must be intensified to improve business efficiency by eliminating red tape, which significantly increases the cost of doing business.

5. Create more economic opportunities: Malaysians are hardworking people who will seize any business opportunity to improve their incomes. The government must therefore develop and implement policies capable of expanding opportunities to allow them to uplift themselves economically. Improved incomes will translate into greater resilience against the high cost of living.

6. Be prudent in consumption: As consumers, we must review our own consumption patterns, prioritising our needs over wants. We must be prepared to face the expected economic turbulence next year, where prudent financial management will come in handy. We must avoid wastage and over-consumption, where we purchase things not to fulfil our basic needs but to make some social statement about ourselves.

7. Support enforcement: Despite the administrative constraints, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry has done very well in acting against businesses that engage in unethical practices. Consumers can help with this too. In this era of social media, we are all empowered to highlight issues in real time and ensure they are addressed immediately. Name and shame those manipulating the system through social media by providing accurate information for the enforcement team to act upon.

It is an opportunity now for all of us to close ranks and propel this great nation forward. We are responsible for our own success or failure.

DARSHAN SINGH

Kuala Lumpur

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