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Monday, December 9, 2013

Up, up, up! — Lim Mun Fah

DECEMBER 6, 2013

DEC 6 — House prices up, transpiration cost up, fuel prices up, white sugar price up, and then we have: flour, electricity tariff, assessment fees and school fees all up!

Beginning January 1, electricity tariff will take the lead with a whopping 15-17 per cent hike. Despite public outcry, those in government appear to be least perturbed, arguing that “70 per cent of households will not be affected”.

70 per cent of households unaffected? Stop kidding me.

If we take a good look at the new tariff structure, we will know that this is not going to be the case. Those paying more than RM43.60 a month in electricity bills will still need to pay the 6 per cent GST come April 2015. Besides, the officials also fail to tell us that a whole range of chain effects will ensue following the rise of electricity tariff.

With electricity tariff going to be higher, production costs are bound to increase, and such increase will most definitely be transferred to the consumers. There is no way you can escape the impact of electricity tariff hike, unless you are a reclusive hermit who wants to have nothing to do at all with the world.

Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti said the electricity tariff hike would only have short-term effects on inflation, and that the CPI would only be increased by 0.4 percentage points next year, hovering around 3 per cent for the whole year.

Well, 3 per cent or 4 per cent that’s what the pundits say and not what the people in the street feel. What they care about is what else will go up tomorrow. They only believe in what they see, not what the abstract numbers are trying to tell us.

Statistics could be quite different from the reality. For example during the 1970s, a simple lunch would cost only around 80 sen to RM1 at a JB coffee shop. Today, the same thing could go for RM5 or RM6!

The actual hike like this is not what the experts could compute. What these experts do is to analyse the numbers they have collected through market survey executives to come out with their so-called inflation rate, all done in air-conditioned comfort. They won’t know how much more a simple three-dish lunch will cost today, nor how badly many suffer.

Only those who are struggling to make ends meet, those who make their routine rounds at the local markets every morning, and those “aunties” shopping for daily necessities at neighbourhood stores, will feel the pinch.

There is no way many of us can evade the scourge of price hikes. If the price is too high, just stop buying, or buy less, or buy only when there is a sale.

Talking about saving money, perhaps we can start from the electricity. For the bosses, set the office air-con temperature at 26C instead of 20-22C, which is too cold for some.

As for the rest of us, cut down power consumption as much as possible. Turn off the lights and computers when they are not needed. Use less of air-conditioners, washing machines, water heaters and other home appliances unless absolutely necessary. Perhaps this might cause some minor inconvenience, but by saving energy we also help cut down carbon emission and do something positive for our planet.

No matter how hard you try to save, you still have to prepare yourself for the impact of escalating goods prices. You may probably want to look for a part-time job to supplement your income, or cut down unnecessary expenses. — Sin Chew Daily

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.

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