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(Image: Malay Mail/Choo Choy May)

Several economists and consumer groups have urged the government to also provide assistance for the M40 income group as they, too, are feeling the pinch from the rising cost of living. Among others, these financial aids could include tax breaks and cash aids.

Economist Nungsari Ahmad Radhi suggested more tax breaks for the M40 group – including tax deductions and exemptions – as these individuals make up a big percentage of the taxpayers in the country. In contrast, the government can consider imposing higher taxes on the top tier income bracket to counter the potential loss of revenue from lowering taxes on the M40 group.

“Our government is well aware of the severe fiscal constraints, and they should look at both revenue and expenditure in determining priorities when all citizens face the rising costs of living,” said Nungsari, adding that the government should also prioritise its financial resources for current needs instead of other less urgent expenses.

Meanwhile, economic analyst Mohd Yusof Saari proposed for the government to reintroduce budget shops, and to offer cash aids as temporary reliefs – among other suggestions. “This is a critical time for the lower income groups, especially the B40 and a majority of the M40. The soaring prices of goods is impacting them significantly,” he said.

Also adding to the conversation is the president of the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA), Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nadason, who urged the government to provide cash aids until the situation improves. On top of that, he called for some form of educational and health assistance as well. “Right now, there is a lot of medicine that is unavailable in the market. This is a dangerous situation for the B40 and also the M40,” he said.

Finally, Datuk Dr Marimuthu stated that the government should hold off on abolishing subsidies in the current economic downturn. Instead, this step should be taken only when prices of goods have stabilised within the country, ensuring that the people are not burdened by it. This comment came following the government’s move to reverse its decision to remove the ceiling price for chickens, just days after saying it will do so.

Aside from that, the government also announced a provision of additional Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia (BKM) cash aids of up to RM100 for the B40 income group last week, in hopes that it will help them cope with the rising cost of living. This assistance is set to be disbursed in stages starting from today, along with the second BKM payment (Phase 2), and eligible individuals can check their payment status via the dedicated BKM website.

Source : MalayMail

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