Putrajaya should cut government expenses, not subsidies, amid rising cost of living: Pakatan Harapan
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government should consider immediate measures such as suspending mega projects and cutting minister allowances, instead of revoking subsidies, to help Malaysians with the rising cost of living, said a Pakatan Harapan committee on Monday (Jun 27).
The opposition coalition’s Cost of Living committee said in a statement that the government's decision to withdraw certain food subsidies was "half-baked, irresponsible and hasty", and would only widen the poverty gap and increase the social problems among the people.
Prices of goods have jumped in Malaysia in recent months due to supply chain disruptions, labour shortages and the impact of war in Ukraine.
Food inflation rose 5.2 per cent from a year earlier in May, the highest since November 2011, government data showed last week.
Last week, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi announced that Malaysia would lift the subsidies for 2kg, 3kg and 5kg bottles of palm cooking oil from Jul 1 as well as the ceiling price control for chicken and chicken eggs.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob subsequently unveiled an additional financial assistance plan to help low-income households, with those eligible receiving RM100 or RM50 in cash from Jun 27.
He also announced on Friday that the government had decided not to float the price of chicken and would instead decide on a new price ceiling.
In its statement the PH committee said that the withdrawal of the subsidies will only contribute to the rising cost of living.
“The committee urges the government to reconsider this withdrawal which will take effect immediately on Jul 1, which will only increase the inflation rate and contribute to the rising cost of living for the people, especially among the B40 (Bottom 40 economic group),” it said.
Among its recommendations, the committee proposed that the ceiling price of chicken and chicken eggs should be maintained and that subsidies to poultry breeders and operators increased accordingly.
The committee of several opposition members of parliament included Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim, Democratic Action Party (DAP)’s Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah)’s Hulu Langat MP Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus.
SUSPEND MEGA PROJECTS, REVIEW MINISTERS’ ALLOWANCES: PH
The committee also said the government should consider cost-cutting measures such as the suspension of some mega projects. Projects that do not benefit the people in the short- and long-term, such as the Mass Rapid Transit 3 (MRT3), the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and Bandar Malaysia (TR-Exchange), should be suspended, it said.
It also called on the government to review the allowances of chief executive officers and board members of government-linked companies, and consider reducing the size of the Cabinet and allowances for ministers.
“(The committee) challenges the government to downsize the current Cabinet members in the government and end the posts of special envoys such as special envoys to India, China, US and the Middle East,” said the committee.
It added that the money from cutting the allowances for the prime minister, ministers and deputy ministers could be returned to the people.
The government should also reduce all forms of overseas visits and suspend all the holiday expenses for the Cabinet ministers for this year, it added.