Major contributors of people’s expenditures need to be addressed

These factors cost up to 68% of Malaysians’ expenditure and it has been a long-standing issue for years in the country

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / Pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE government needs to roll out targeted measures to address issues surrounding the three major costs of people’s expenditure: food, housing and utilities, Economic Action Council ED Prof Tan Sri Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali said.

He said these three factors have cost up to 68% of Malaysians’ expenditure and it has been a long-standing issue for years in the country.

“If we are able to resolve the problem with three most important baskets of expenditure which cost of living, that probably will make the public feel their matter is being attended to.

“Then it needs to be continuous. The right operational target has to be set, achievement to be reported, progress and execution need to be done,” he said during the Symposium on Cost of Living 2021 yesterday.

Noor Azlan said the government might be able to bring down the cost of education that is very small in the basket of the household.

“Yes, it is important for development but in terms of cost of living, it is small.

“The problem we are having here is sometimes we get mixed up between quality of living and cost of living. We also mixed education affordability and quality of health with cost of living,” he added.

He said another aspect to look at is where people are located in which aggressive building of low-cost housing is in the city does not really address the problem.

“That is wrong. When you get people to live in the city, rent, price for consumer goods, eating at the

restaurant and many other items are actually a lot higher. You might solve one problem but you create another problem.

“The idea to bring low-income groups to the city is obviously not a sustainable solution. If we look at the Hardcore Poor Housing Project in the city, most of them are living horrible. They can see the Twin Towers right to their window but their living conditions are really bad,” he added.

To address the cost of living problem, Noor Azlan said Malaysia needs to keep a healthy and fair market, injects more players to keep a healthy competition along the entire supply chain.

“This is something we have yet to be able to see clearly. If we look at items of goods — fish, vegetables and even housing, do we have this dimension of competition in Malaysia or are they behaving monopolistically?” he said.

He also said that the Covid-19 only exposes the long-standing issues that Malaysia is suffering from, citing the issue of labour efficiency and distribution as examples.

Earlier, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi said the pandemic poses bigger challenges due to structural changes in society.

The B40 (bottom 40% income) group may hereafter be referred to as B50 or B60, the minister said.

He said this means the number of households that need to be helped will also increase and have an impact on the execution.

“Yet, I believe these challenges will open up space for us to see various new methods. The use of technology is necessary intensified by using management technology assistance in the form of a larger scale as well as unique.

“I hope that methods from other sectors can be used or given innovation in providing assistance to groups with a larger target,” he said in his speech yesterday.

“Not just the government, but every member of society, whether at the community level, the academic world, non-governmental organisations, social organisations as well as economic industry players, has a great role to play in addressing this cost of living issue,” he added.