By Mohamed Azmi Mohd Rasheed Khan, Head Corporate Services Division, Institut Masa Depan Malaysia
The weakening economy, depreciating ringgit and rising costs that plague the people are long-standing major issues that need radical actions and solutions from the unity government.
Now, into its ninth month in office, no concrete efforts, however, seem to have been made by the government to control the prices of goods if the never-ending cost hikes are anything to go by.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim always says that the cost of living is always on the government’s mind but the endless cries and pleas by consumers seem to have gone unnoticed as evidenced by pricier goods and weak ringgit.
The PM keeps saying the government is always finding ways to ensure that the price of goods remains stable but too bad, his words remain just that – with no improvements seem to be in sight and prices continue to soar. It’s all talk and no action!
By now, there should have been various concrete actions or measures taken to tackle all related issues and challenges in rice production and food security in this country.
True that soaring rice prices have stretched the budgets to billions not only in Malaysia but also in other nations in Asia, Africa and beyond, but what our unity government should have done is to at least manage or control price hikes to ease our sufferings.
Consumers’ mounting concerns, especially the B40 group and the vulnerable, must be addressed and not taken lightly by the government as all these food price shocks will only weaken their spending power in ensuring that there is food on the table.
Already the economists, including Monash University Malaysia economist Niaz Asadullah, are saying that the five-year 12th Malaysia Plan Mid-term Review (12MP MTR) tabled by the prime minister is outdated and no longer relevant to serve the people.
They say the economic plans have been “good” in serving Malaysia well, bringing economic development and prosperity in the earlier decades of this country’s growth but not now.
Embrace new ideas
They also say the time is ripe to move away from the old-style development plans of the 1960s and 1970s.
This present Madani government has made many promises but it seems that the pledges have yet to be fulfilled, with the economy and cost of living situation still being difficult for the people, including the low- and middle-income earners.
The way I see it, the 12MP MTR’s theme “Malaysia Madani: Sustainable, Prosperous, High Income” doesn’t really fit into higher inflationary indices, all of which are now being faced by people.
Hopefully, it will not remain merely as “foundational documents” that look good on paper but nothing much for the rakyat. They must not be seen as running for the hills.
Correcting the economy requires skills and the involvement of super economists, not simply “philosophical” talks or approaches to developing a remedy.
Last but not least, hopefully, this five-year plan will put our economy back on track.