Times are getting tough. All are asked to be brace for what is expected to be a rough 2014. Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak and his Government (and present line up of Cabinet Ministers) are steaming ahead with the ‘rationalisation of subsidies’.
First, we heard it from Minister in-charge of ‘Transformation Programs’ Dato’ Idris Jala that the Federal Government would not be able to cope with the annual subsidy of RM43billion. In 2010, he said that by 2019 if ‘business as usual’ and no transformation is made, the Federal Government coffer would go belly up.
Hence, by the second half of 2013 Prime Minister Najib ‘rationalisation of subsidy’ program started. First it was the retail price of petrol and diesel up by 20 sen in September. Then comes Bajet 2014, sugar is completely subsidy free when suddenly the price shot up by 34sen per kg. Consumption tax in the form of 6% GST would be introduced by April 2015, to make up the revenue deficit.
Then the announcements of electricity tariff would go up by 15% and possibility of many of the Non PLUS highways toll rates up too comes in to effect in 2014.
On ground, retail prices are up across the board. Grocery shoppers already feeling the pinch that food stuff across the board gone up, be it chicken, fish, beef, fruits and vegetables. Even spices are up.
Everyone is grousing. Especially the lower income bracket. The most are the lower income and lower middle income segment who are urban and suburban dwellers. Their Ringgit has shrunk termendously. Nothing to factor that their lifestyle is grossly impaired with the traffic jams they have to endure.
Yes, Prime Minister Najib is kind enough to give them hand outs of RM600.00 in BR1M to families with aggregated earning of less than RM3,500.00 a month. Spread that monthly, would effectively subsidies half a week of grocery bills. By 2013, BR1M was extended to singles. He gladly announced 6 million Malaysians would benefit from this scheme.
In reality, other cost is going up. Even rental and school bus fee. In a nut shell, majority of Malaysians are asked to tighten their belt and change their lifestyle.
One interesting fact is that Prime Minister Najib announced his budget for 2014 at the proposed amount of RM264billion. Only RM46.5 billion is for development expenditure or CAPEX. That is 17.6% of the whole 2014 budget.
The rest which is RM217.7 billion or 82.4% is operating expenditure or OPEX. That is very huge.
The 11 point austerity drive which Prime Minister Najib announced on 30 December 2013 has been seen as ‘insincere’ to substantially reduce OPEX and budget deficit, considering the VVIP travel bill is actually much more than the savings possibly derived. It is actually pittance and should considered as an insult to the bigger majority, finding it toughrer to make ends meet in these days where almost everything is up.
The other side of the field is totally different. Here you have PMO admitting that the Malaysian Government last year spent RM181 million to lease and maintain aircrafts for VVIP travels, especially for the Prime Minister and consort.
How could Prime Minister Najib stomach the fact that he started the vow “Rakyat diutamakan“, is facing a tougher living when the kind of money was splurged on his convenience, comfort and luxury should be seen as nothing but sinful.