Rising cost of living in general is forcing many families to struggle just to make ends meet. Owning a house has become an impossible dream for many young working adults of 20s and 30s or even the 40s as house price continues to escalate as we speak. The rich continue to make quick profit from speculative house sales, while the average income earners are left on the sideline for lack of finances. A car is unfortunately a necessity for many to commute to work as we are still living in a country with a third world public transportation system no thanks to the poor planning and incompetence of the government. So for the very least, a RM50,000 loan is needed to purchase a reasonably reliable car, and that would work out to around RM700 per month for a 7-year term loan. For an average worker or even a graduate fresh from college, a big chunk of his salary will be used to service the loan, not to mention other costs like car maintenance, tolls and petrol.
It is the government’s primary responsibility to ensure the cost of living is affordable for most. However, our past few budget policies presented have done very little to make improvement on this matter. Subsidies for essential commodities such as rice, sugar, and oil have been gradually reduced time after time resulting in inevitable increase in prices, adding more burden on people’s daily expenditure. The recent budget introduced an unfair way of distributing money such as hefty pay rise for civil servants and even proposed increase of allowance for Members of Parliament all at the expense of the tax payers, and worsening our country’s deficits. Without good policies and proper governance, the cost of living in our country is bound to rise, making it harder for people to cope with their finances.
Foreign direct investments (FDI) provide an inflow of foreign capital and funds, creating job opportunities. However, foreign investors would not invest in our country unless we offer them better returns and more attractive incentives than other countries. The New Economic Policy is a big deterrent to FDI. Its aim is to help the poor and ensure proper distribution of wealth but its implementation has been distorted to benefit only a select group of people, with severe terms that is not conducive to business investment, FDI inflow will continue to slide and we will stand the risk of being marginalised in the years to come.
Higher crime rates have forced people to hire their own security guards to safeguard their houses, and this is an additional burden on people’s limited finances. All these extra expenses are not helping people to cope with their living with their meagre income. In fact, the rampant theft and robbery is also a result of escalating cost of living forcing some to resort to such crimes. And is the government paying due attention to this problem?
As much as the government has an important duty in rendering a more affordable cost of living for the people, we are responsible for keeping our own finances in check too. Many young people nowadays are raking up their credit card debts or personal loans to fulfil their superficial materialistic wishes, with fancy cars, overseas travelling, expensive dinners, and luxurious life style. Learning to live within one’s means is extremely crucial to build up a healthy and debt-free lifestyle.
We are in dire need of a good and responsible government that will form policies to benefit all, a government that will fight and eliminate corruption and eradicate nepotism and cronyism, a government that will attract foreign investments to our country and create more jobs for the locals, and last but not least, a government that will listen to the voices of the people. As responsible Malaysians, we must make our votes count in the upcoming election to bring on board such a government. Let vision 2020 be a reality and let us make Malaysia a country that we all can be proud of.