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Monday, January 13, 2014

Rakyat and rising cost of living

| January 11, 2014

These days the average Joe is struggling to survive and it is time for the government to prioritise the people's interest first.

Our currency the Malaysian Ringgit is falling against the British Pound, the US Dollar and the Chinese Renminbi since December last year. This will make our imports more expensive and food products from Britain, USA and China will definitely cost more.

So will stationery from China although our government has stopped the stationery sellers from increasing the prices of these items.

In short, the question to be asked is: Why is the Ringgit going down in value when the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE) is robust? Which can be controlled and which is not under our control?

As usual someone in the government will come out to say that “our fundamentals are strong…blah, blah, blah” but to the average layman, this is all gobbledygook when the money in his pocket is disappearing fast.

This shows that it is not easy for the nation’s economists to gauge our country’s economic health. One group of economists will say that everything is fine while another group will say that all is doom and gloom although the latter group comes from the opposition side.

One thing for sure is that the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 will help to boost the nation’s economy which at this point in time cannot be said to be thriving due to the fall in the value of the Ringgit.

Certainly we should all do our bit to be friendly and helpful to tourists by assisting those who ask us for information especially the backpackers who come here without tour guides.

In addition to the above, the move to stop fast-food restaurants from hiring foreign workers is certainly a good and timely move but at the same time the government must also take steps to curb the intake of foreign workers. How are we not to give them jobs if there are too many of them?

Moreover, those who will be laid off by the fast-food restaurants will be jobless. What will happen to them? Will they pose a danger to our own citizens? The intake of foreign workers on a continuous basis is alarming if there are not enough jobs for them.

Clearly the BN government does things without proper planning and foresight. They use the fire-fighting method when there is difficulty instead of pre-empting the problem or the difficulty before it happens.

To put it bluntly: the government has failed and the people’s wellbeing is now in jeopardy.

The government has no more game-plan and is floundering in the deep blue sea.

Putting people first?

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is out of his depth. His management skills have sunk to the bottom of the ocean while the rakyat are battling to stay afloat amidst the rising cost of living.

Najib has to come up with a brilliant idea to save this nation. And he should use the annual Audit Report as a costsaver’s guide in order to stop wastages and leakages.

Never in all of Malaysian history since Independence has there been such an acute problem of price hikes.

It is time for the government to be aware that in this new century, voters are not that stupid. People who have voted for BN in GE13 have realised that the government’s promises prior to the hustings are just hot air. Now these voters have woken up albeit too late.

It will be difficult for the voters to be swayed by sensitive issues come the next general election. For when one’s pocket has less money, where is there the time to pay attention to sensitive issues?

Even now the hot topic on the streets is nothing but prices of this and that and how much such and such has gone up.

These days the average Joe is struggling to survive. People are already complaining that the government has hoodwinked them.

It is high time the government realised this and take steps to reduce the prices of goods and services. The GST (Goods & Services Tax) should start at 4% instead of 6% while the assessment rate percentage for KL folks should be 3% for residence and 8% for commercial property due to the massive hike in the valuation rate for the properties. (The current rates of 4% for residence and 10% for commercial property are still too high.)

Najib should prioritise the people’s interest first. Or has he forgotten his own slogan of ‘People First’?

It is now the right time for Najib and the government to wake up before the Year of the Horse comes galloping in on Jan 31 and the prices gallop away at top speed.

Selena Tay is a DAP member and a FMT columnist.

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