MUAR, April 29 — Malaysians spent nearly RM12 billion on mobile devices last year despite complaining that a consumption tax was hurting their buying power, said National Civics Bureau (BTN) director-general Datuk Ibrahim Saad.
“Many complained that, because of GST, the price of goods was increasing.
“But in 2017 alone, Malaysians spent RM 11.7 billion for gadgets alone such as phones and tablets. (This shows) Malaysians don’t eat rice but they eat handphones instead,” he said.
Ibrahim displayed a photograph of people flocking to buy discounted Apple products during a sale at the Mytown Shopping centre in Cheras last month.
He added that Malaysians still frequented such sales despite the continued complaints about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced in 2015.
“So, for those who say they have fallen on hard times, are they really struggling?’’ he asked.
He claimed Malaysians were not just increasingly going abroad for holidays, but were also spending more.
On the perception that Malaysia is struggling with debt, Ibrahim said this had been worse during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s time as prime minister.
“In 1986, the national debt was at 103.4 per cent of the GDP (gross domestic product), while in 2016, it stands at 53.2 per cent.
“This show that we are doing well financially and we are not going bankrupt as some have said,’’ he said.