KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 ― A survey which shows that Malaysia has the lowest cost of living in Southeast Asia indicates the government’s success in tackling the issue, the prime minister said today.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Putrajaya had prioritised efforts to tackle the issue of living costs and to lessen Malaysians' financial burden in its effort to make the country a high-income nation.
He cited measures such as the authorities' price controls and cutting out middlemen, as well as the distribution of cash assistance under the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) to low-income earners.
“The government believes these efforts have to an extent borne fruit when Malaysia was assessed as the city with the lowest cost of living among the Asean countries according to a 2017 global survey on living costs by the Economist Intelligence Unit,” he said in a speech posted on his blog today.
The EIU had, in its Worldwide Cost of Living 2017 report last month, listed Malaysia's capital city Kuala Lumpur as ranking 96th out of 133 cities globally, while southern neighbour Singapore was ranked the world's most expensive city to live in for the fourth consecutive year.
The biannual cost-of-living index by UK publication The Economist's sister company is calculated by comparing over 400 individual prices of 160 goods and services in the cities rated.
Despite the favorable finding on Malaysia in the EIU global survey, Najib stressed that such apparent recognition did not mean that the government's work to lighten Malaysians' load was now complete.
“There is still more that we are and will be doing to increase income and reduce the cost of goods,” he said.
He then listed off a list of measures including under Bumiputera-specific programmes under Teraju, MARA, SUPERB, Facilitation Fund, Tekun; as well as cost-control measures for all Malaysians under subsidised grocery chain Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia, Klinik 1Malaysia clinics, 1Malaysia book vouchers and affordable housing programme 1Malaysia People's Housing Programme (PR1MA).
“I really hope these programmes will lift up the people's standard of living because this is what I work towards each day as prime minister,” he concluded.
Malaysia's annual consumer price inflation hit 5.1 per cent in March, the highest figure in eight years since it hit 5.7 per cent in November 2008.
Bank Negara Malaysia said last month that inflation is expected to average at between 3 and 4 per cent this year, with the higher inflation rate in the first half owing to higher fuel prices that are expected to dip in the remaining six months.