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Monday, December 23, 2013

Give them fixed monthly payments

Publication: NST
Date of publication: Dec 23, 2013
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 018
Byline / Author: By Lau Bing

TO families trying to make ends meet next year, it will be more difficult, worrisome, and stressful than it was this year, especially with having to tighten the belt right down, or rather, deeper to the skin, for many.

This will be so when prices of a wide range of essential items, goods and services such as petrol, sugar, electricity, cooking gas and tolls, among others, start to sky rocket all together next year. And lest we forget, the 6 per cent Goods and Services Tax that is charged for food, entertainment and services or for whatever you buy and sell, will kick in in 2015.

That means that the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) handouts of RM500 to each deserving citizen is no big deal, because in actual fact, if one were to work it out to per day cash in hand, it would come to just about RM1.37 per day. This is bird feed. And, if the government were to do it twice a year, it is still bird feed, because it is not enough to absorb the extra payments this group will have to make which are caused by the price increases.

Nevertheless, it is better to have a bird in hand than 10 in the bush. That means the public has no option but to take the RM500 cash handouts. And of course, everybody likes the idea of "the more the merrier" when it comes to receiving money from the government though it is "channeled" if not "siphoned" off public taxes.

And talking about taxes; all ill-gotten wealth and monetary gains from corruption and bribery are "tax exempted", provided it gets past the watchful eye of the law and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. Apart from this, smugglers who bring in heroin, drugs and marijuana via Malaysia also don't pay taxes.

Those who amass money by corrupt practices and others who have siphoned money from the company or government where they work have gone scot-free for not paying taxes.

Actually, these activities including money laundering take place secretly at hideouts in the city or suburban towns. They are only made known when the law steps in to close the "business".

When drug shipments are intercepted at Customs or at any point of entry to Malaysia, the goods are usually seized by the government.

Surely some drugs could be sold to international buyers to produce medicines and other health benefit products after the court case is closed, to raise money to run the government machinery or projects, instead of destroying them?

There you go, using this method to raise revenues for the government will actually help reduce the burden of Malaysians, so that they need not pay so many taxes.

Also, this allows the government to lower the GST to 4 per cent or lower.

Coming back to BR1M handouts. Of course, it would be helpful if a fixed monthly payment of say RM200 is given to each qualified Malaysian who is a recipient of BR1M. This should help pay off the electricity and water bills - say RM80 for electricity and RM20 for water of a small family living hand to mouth in the outskirts of cities and towns.

The balance of RM100 could be used to buy petrol.

This would be more meaningful and whatever is given goes a long way to helping the poor have a little more money to spend on other things. To senior citizens, retirees and elderly people, this cash will come in handy whenever there is a need to buy something else of which it was beyond their reach prior to that.

Thus, it is more ideal and logical to give a fixed monthly payment to the poor or needy as it will certainly help ease their financial constraints to a certain degree. After-all, the money is coming from tax-payers' and nothing not a single sen from the government.

Lau Bing, Subang Jaya, Selangor

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