The Prime Minister vows to put in place mechanisms to cushion the impact of rising cost of living.
“…where necessary, we will fine-tune government programmes so that the effect on household incomes is not too great.
“We will put in place mechanisms to cushion people from the rises in the electricity tariff and toll fares, and the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) is coming up with new ideas to ease the cost of living pressures,” he said in his new year message on his blog, www.1Malaysia.com.my.
Having announced yesterday 11 measures to reduce public sector expenditure in the new year, Najib, who is also the finance minister, said the government would also try to ensure that the increases are proportionate.
For example, he said, the rise in fuel and electricity prices will have an effect on people’s spending power but, despite the increase, the government still subsidises petrol and electricity bills.
“We will do everything we can to ensure the impact on the rakyat is minimised. Based on public feedback, where necessary we will fine-tune government programmes so that the effect on household incomes is not too great. We will put in place mechanisms to cushion people from rises in the electricity tariff and toll fares. And PEMANDU is coming up with new ideas to ease the cost of living pressures”
“We will also try to ensure that rises are proportionate. For example, the rise in fuel and electricity prices will have an effect on people’s spending power. But, despite the increase, the government still subsidises petrol and electricity bills. As for the recent rises in property assessment rates in Kuala Lumpur, after listening to peoples’ concerns, the rates were reduced by 2%, and extra rebates were added for disabled property owners, retirees and owner-occupiers,” he said
He said from last week, 7.9 million recipients in households earning under RM4,000 per month were eligible apply for new BR1M payments.
We are opening new 1Malaysia shops, to help with the cost of daily goods, and new 1Malaysia Kliniks to provide affordable healthcare. Altogether, next year the government will spend some 42 billion ringgit on subsidies – almost as much as we spend on development, he added.
The Prime Minister also said while the government rationalises subsidies, it was also are also cutting our own costs.
“We are also reaffirming our commitment to tackling corruption, cutting government waste, and improving procurement; putting government tenders online to make them more transparent, and working to better realise the value of government assets.”
“As we prepare for the new year, it is also a good time to remember why we are making these changes. They may not be popular in the short term, so it would have been easier to keep the status quo.”
“People will say that too many costs are rising, and populist policies will seem attractive. But the government has to take action now. I am determined to do the right thing for this country and the people. Because by acting responsibly now, we will strengthen Malaysia’s economy in the long term – and the benefits will be felt much more widely,” he added.
He said rationalising subsidies, will strengthen the country’s fiscal position, allowing Malaysia to focus our spending on development projects – including health and education – and move towards a balanced budget by 2020.
By taking the steps needed to make Malaysia’s economy stronger, Najib said the government was not only protecting the nation against financial crises but also opening up new jobs – and new opportunities.
“If we are to be responsible in government, it sometimes means taking difficult decisions which are unpopular.
Leadership is about looking to the long-term: about doing what is right, not what is popular. In 2009, we began a journey of economic and government transformation. As 2014 begins, we must continue to build the foundations for Malaysia’s continued success: a stronger economy, and a more unified nation,” he said.
He said as 2013 draws to a close, it was time to reflect on the year that has passed – and the promise of the year to come.
“Twelve months ago, we were gearing up for a general election, the thirteenth in our nation’s history. We are humbled that Barisan Nasional received a new mandate. We have the better plan for Malaysia’s future, and we worked hard to convince the rakyat of our vision.”
“The victory renewed the sense of responsibility I feel to all Malaysians – not just those who voted for us.”
“In a hard-fought election, it is normal for tensions to rise; we feel that our nation’s very future is at stake. Our election was peaceful: with the eyes of the world upon us, we Malaysians showed we are wedded to democracy. But we also found ourselves divided, sometimes bitterly so, over the path our country should take,” he said.
He said elections were about competing visions for a nation and People were free to choose which path to take, and to defend their choice.
“That is the very essence of democracy. Yet this time, emotions ran higher than usual. Where once there was disagreement, there was now division. On occasion, politicians, media – and sometimes even the public – went too far.”
“When I spoke of a ‘Chinese tsunami’ on election night, I simply meant that a wave of Chinese support had washed away from Barisan Nasional. It shows how polarised we can be that some people read so much more into my comment.”
“I believe Malaysia is strong enough to survive heated debate. With time, the divisions will heal, as we see our nation continue to grow and develop, and as we realise that those we disagree with are still our neighbours, our colleagues – and our friends. But I also believe that we should reaffirm our commitment to the peaceful coexistence that defines our nation,” Najib added.
Speaking of the new year, he said 2014 will be a year of great opportunity.
As the second Visit Malaysia year gets underway, we will see a concerted push to bring new visitors to our beautiful country. New businesses will open, and new investments will be realised. Our economy, which has weathered the storm of the financial crisis, is predicted to grow by 5.5%, he added.