KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — DAP national chairman Lim Guan Eng has today accused Putrajaya of merely "talking shop" by setting up a task force to tackle inflation if there are no concrete actions taken.
Lim also questioned the decision of appointing Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa to lead the task force, after the latter's debacle of spreading fake news about the government's initial proposal to remove subsidies for essential items.
"The committee would end up as another empty 'talk shop' without any concrete action if Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob does not take charge personally to emphasise the government’s serious commitment to address the severe financial crisis facing the 'rakyat' and businesses.
"What is the point of setting up another special six-man cabinet committee when headed by Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa, who cannot even get his numbers right on the cost-benefit analysis of the removal of subsidies for chicken, eggs, and cooking oil except 1kg packs?" Lim asked in a statement.
The Bagan MP said that Annuar had previously made false claims that the government was not withdrawing subsidies but increasing the subsidy value.
Instead, what happened was that the government had removed the subsidies for chickens, eggs and oil (except for 1kg packs) and had saved themselves RM690 million, to which RM630 million are to be allocated as financial aid, he said.
"In saving RM 960 million from subsidy removals but only giving out RM630 million in additional aid in the form of extra cash of RM100 to B40 households and RM50 to bachelors, means the 'rakyat' loses out on RM330 million in previous subsidy benefits.
"Can we expect a minister who does not know what he is talking about or cannot count to help us overcome inflation and rising prices?" he asked.
The task force was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri yesterday with the aim to help manage inflation rates from external factors such as the disrupted supply chains from the Ukraine-Russia war and unpredictable weather conditions.
Annuar said today the group aims to pay attention to all prices of goods and services that could contribute to the increase in the inflation rate, apart from chicken, eggs and cooking oil.
Lim added further that the producer price index (PPI), which measures the costs of goods at the factory gate, has risen 0.2 per cent within a month, indicating that rising labour and material costs are impacting M40 groups and small-to-medium enterprises.
"Many analysts contend that rising labour and material costs compounded by the severe worker shortage caused the disastrous failure of the current government to facilitate the entry of local workers.
"The Prime Minister can help to mitigate rising costs by resolving the labour shortages of foreign workers at the stroke of his pen but has again refused to take charge. How long can Ismail Sabri wait when the financial situation gets more difficult?"
Malaysia's inflation, measured by the consumer price index (CPI), increased 2.8 per cent in May 2022 from a year earlier.