KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — The government will, from time to time, implement suitable initiatives under the Cost of Living National Key Result Area (NKRA) to cushion the effects of increases in the prices of goods and the rise in the cost of living.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in his New Year message, said the effect of the increase in the prices of goods on the cost of living would continue to be monitored to ensure the people's well-being is not affected.
“The government listens to the woes of the people with great concern. As such, it will implement steps to reduce the burden of the cost of living which are mostly contained in the Barisan Nasional (BN) Manifesto during the 13th general election and 2014 Budget tabled by the Prime Minister,” he said.
Muhyiddin said among the initiatives taken to reduce the burden of the people included expanding the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M), RM100 schooling aid for each student, abolishing school fees, food aid and textbook loans.
In addition, school bus insurance, 1Malaysia Book Voucher, opening of more farmers' markets, 1Malaysia People's Shop (KR1M) other than direct from factory sales to ensure reasonable prices for food products and basic necessities, and other aid to ease the burden of cost of living of the people would also be continued, he said.
“These measures clearly show that the government is always concerned about the well-being of the people and always gives priority to programmes to ease the burden from the cost of living,” said Muhyiddin who is also Education Minister.
He stressed that all the measures implemented were to ensure that the nation achieved a developed nation status with high income, with the people enjoying a better quality of life.
Touching on the rationalisation measures implemented by the government, Muhyiddin said it was implemented with care and in stages to ensure a minimum impact and did not burden the people, especially the low-income group.
“The savings as a result of the subsidy rationalisation moves indirectly will be returned to the people especially the target group so that the effect of the increase in the cost of living can be offset.
“This approach is to support continuous economic growth and at the same time ensure the well-being of the people is not affected,” he clarified.
Muhyiddin, in the meantime, also lauded the announcement of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the 11 steps to reduce government expenditure, including cutting the entertainment allowances of ministers and deputy ministers by 10 per cent.
“I believe the cost cutting moves of the public sector announced by the Prime Minister yesterday was timely,” he said.
He said when the people were burdened by the increase in the cost of living, it was apt the leadership and the highest management of the public sector also made some sacrifices.
“The proceeds from the cost cuttings by the government through the reduction of entertainment allowances and other facilities enjoyed previously can be channelled to the needy.
“I also believe the public sector's cost cutting measures can ensure prudent spending is more efficiently practised by the public sector, and in avoiding leakages,” he said.
Muhyiddin said the government also hoped the people could together with the government weather the challenge of the increase in the cost of living and would not be easily trapped by the instigations of certain quarters to go to the streets to protest against the prices of goods and seek to topple the government in an undemocratic manner.
“Although, it will feel a bit burdensome in the short term, it will be more beneficial and sustainable in the future.
“Going down to the streets is not the way to solve problems, on the other hand it will give rise to chaos and worsen the situation,” he said.
He also believed the problem could be resolved when the people and the government stood shoulder to shoulder to weather the challenges and find a solution together.
“In this spirit, the government lauds any view and suggestion from the people which can help the government carry out more comprehensive measures to boost the well-being of the people in an uncertain global economy,” he said.
Muhyiddin also took the opportunity to wish Malaysians Happy New Year 2014 and hoped it would bring a ray of hope to all. — Bernama