Nanta Linggi: Govt doing its best to contain prices

The KPDNHEP minister believes 2022 will easily be a brighter year for Malaysians as business activities start to pick up

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by BERNAMA

THE government is taking a holistic approach to tackle all related factors and impacts in order to retain consumer purchasing power during periods of rising food prices.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi (picture) said this is to help food-deficient households during these periods.

He added that the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) is aware of the struggles faced by businesses and consumers due to escalating prices, particularly the costs of food products.

“Globally, the price hikes happened due to rampant demand for goods and services that met bottlenecks due to supply chain disruptions.

“While many of these price increases are caused by external factors beyond the government’s control, we are, nonetheless, doing our best to contain the situation,” he said at a special address at Malaysia Economic and Strategic Outlook Forum (MESOF) 2022 organised by KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific yesterday.

He also reminded all players in the supply chain not to take advantage of this situation by unnecessarily increasing prices of goods and those that do will face harsh action and fines.

Commenting further, Nanta Linggi believes 2022 will easily be a brighter year for all Malaysians as business activities start to pick up.

“As the effects of the pandemic subside and people’s lives gradually return to a state of normalcy, Malaysia must posture itself to move forward and not backward as to how businesses were operated pre-pandemic.”

The minister added that the country must not overlook the fact that neighbouring countries too have taken proactive steps to undergo digitalisation processes for their businesses.

“Competition, therefore, is expected to be stiff with the market promising to become more saturated with more and more global players in every sector.

“We truly cannot afford to remain stagnant and (must) broaden our game in the digital space,” he said.

Meanwhile, during a panel session at the forum, economist and Malaysia University of Science and Technology professor Dr Geoffrey Williams said although the country will see economic growth, the figures will not be as optimistic as expected by international forecasters due to a variety of factors including the policies implemented to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.

He noted that the Malaysia’s economic growth will probably be around 3.5% as containment policies have affected all aspects of the local economy, which has led to a decrease in average and median wages.

Williams also pointed out that domestic investments as a proportion of Malaysia’s GDP growth have continued to decline, which is an ongoing trend since 2016.

Williams added that consumer and household debts continue to rise, while the Employees Provident Fund accounts have been significantly depleted.

“These factors have significant structural impact on the economy and as such, we anticipate no significant economic rebound but rather a much more muted, tentative and fragile economy.”

On the inflation rate, Williams said inflation surged significantly in the early part of 2021 due to external factors such as oil prices and the effects of the lockdowns.

“Nevertheless, excluding core inflation, we see that the inflation level is modest and expect headline inflation to be on the decline.

“We expect inflation to be around 1.6%, it may rise slowly, but it will be below 2% by the end of 2022.”

Headline inflation would continue to be volatile, he said, but much lower than it was in 2020 and 2021.

Additionally, he also emphasised the importance of establishing an independent fiscal institution in the country to help understand the impact of budgetary discussions.