Silence means tacit approval for price hikes, says minister

Pakatan rally against assessment hikes at DBKL building in Kuala Lumpur, December 16, 2013. —  Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Pakatan rally against assessment hikes at DBKL building in Kuala Lumpur, December 16, 2013. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 — The failure by Malaysians to officially complain of price increases caused by government measures indicated their approval for the policies, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek said today.

He also insisted that prices were determined by consumers and that the government has no role or power over the matter.

“We haven’t received any complaints. People have not complained, which means there is support. We don’t control the price, the consumers control it,” he was quoted as saying by The Star on its website today.

Since September, Putrajaya has embarked on aggressive cost-cutting measures after pressure grew for it to rein in a chronic budget deficit that traces back to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and which has left Malaysia’s national debt at just below a critical legal ceiling.

It has pledged to bring its overspending down from around 5 per cent of gross domestic product now to 3 per cent by 2015.

Among others, it has reduced fuel subsidies, removed price control for sugar, allowed an increase in electricity tariffs and confirmed the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) all within the space of four months.

Yesterday, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged Putrajaya to balance the national budget by trimming its own expenditure before looking to add to the financial burdens of Malaysians.

The nation’s longest serving prime minister pointed out that there was ample opportunity to reduce wastages and leakages as evidenced by the annual Auditor-General’s report, before resorting to new and higher taxes.

Today, Hassan disagreed with Dr Mahathir’s suggestion but said the government would take it into consideration.

“We will look at Tun’s views as well as those of the public. We want the best system.” 

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