Apart from worrying about the effects of cuts in subsidies, the lower-income group and even the middle-class are feeling the effects of a sharp rise in fruit and vegetable prices, especially over the last quarter.
While Najib waxes eloquent about the New Economic Model, low-income Malaysians are struggling to balance their budgets. Fruit and vegetables that used to cost RM60 a few months ago now cost around RM90. If you paid RM25 for a basket of vegetables a few months ago, you probably would have to fork out around RM45 now.
Of course, Cabinet Ministers won’t feel the pinch from higher food prices and cuts in subsidies. But ordinary workers will, as their wages struggle to keep pace with the rising cost of living. (As an aside, we desperately need a move towards organic agriculture to make us more self-sufficient in healthy pesticide-free natural food.)
Here’s something I wrote for IPS:
The government’s proposal to remove and rationalise subsidies on essential goods and services continues to provoke a storm of criticism from ordinary Malaysians.
Idris Jala, who leads the government’s Performance and Management Delivery Unit (PEMANDU), has put it in stark terms: Malaysia will go bust in nine years if it does not slash subsidies and cut its government expenditure to curb spiraling debt.
His warning came ahead of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s unveiling of details of his New Economic Model (NEM) in Parliament on Jun. 10, which is when the Tenth Malaysia Plan, a five-year economic blueprint, will be tabled.
The NEM is a market-friendly programme that aims to transform Malaysia into a high-income nation while promoting inclusiveness and targeting aid to the bottom 40 percent of households.
But many Malaysians blame the country’s financial woes on the government, with the general response being, if the government really wants to save money on subsidies, it should first plug ‘leakages’ in government expenditure and curb rampant corruption. Billions have been poured into unproductive government projects with little to show, critics charge. Full article here.