Rising expenses continue to bite despite rosy economic growth stats, says PKR

Voon Shiak Ni

KUCHING, Dec 6: Despite the rosy statistics painted by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government on economic growth, Sarawakians remain poor and unable to cope with the rising cost of living, says PKR Women national vice-president Voon Shiak Ni.

“Don’t tell us the economy is good when we are not feeling it on the ground. It is a shame and failure of the government in its inability to detect the concerns and the hardships of the people on the ground,” she told a press conference today.

“Living expenses are escalating and it is an undeniable fact that everyone complains about.”

It was reported that the country’s economy grew at a faster pace of 6.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 compared to 4.3 percent in the same quarter last year.

Quoting figures in the 2018 Budget that seven million recipients will receive BR1M aid this year, Voon said that it means 22.5 per cent of Malaysia’s 31 million total population are earning below RM4,000 per household.

“It is even worse in rural Sarawak where the majority of the farmers are earning far below that,” she added.

She said ministers with hefty salaries and allocations can never feel the hardships and sentiments on the ground if they don’t leave their comfy armchairs.

Referring to the results of a recent survey, Voon was shocked that 15 per cent of the respondents had to skip meals and 11 per cent had to resort to selling off and pawning their belongings to make ends meet.

The survey, which was conducted by Merdeka Centre from Nov 4 to 14 involving 1,203 registered voters, found that a rather high number of Malaysians were complaining about the economic difficulties.

“This survey brings to light the reality on the ground that the statistics of economic growth do not reflect accurately the situation on the ground.”

The Merdeka Centre survey, which was released on Nov 24 and a follow-up to a similar survey conducted in January, also found that:

— 11 per cent needed to pawn off possessions in order to meet expenses, one per cent higher compared to January;

— 29 per cent did not possess a minimum of RM500 of savings to address any emergency, compared to 33 per cent in January;

— 64 per cent felt stressed thinking about the future, compared to 68 per cent in January;

— 40 per cent had to delay or were unable to make payments on utility bills, such as electricity and telephone bills, which was unchanged since January;

— 20 per cent took on new debt (in the form of personal loans or charging of credit cards), a two per cent increase from January; and

— 15 per cent encountered new conflicts with the family, a two per cent increase compared to January.

The respondents were selected through a random stratified sampling method along the lines of ethnicity, gender and age, from all 222 parliamentary constituencies, with the selection proportional to the population in each constituency. — DayakDaily