PERIKATAN Nasional (PN) chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has criticised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for supposedly taking a flippant approach to addressing the current high cost of living.
During the Budget 2023 debate session in Parliament today (March 6), Muhyiddin lamented the unity government’s alleged failure to take measures to fix the problem despite the people’s high expectations.
This is particularly unfortunate as the public will face financial difficulties as schools reopen and the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festive period is just around the corner.
“By right, the issue of high cost of living should be the utmost priority of the prime minister and government,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat today.
“Unfortunately, Tambun (Anwar) appears to be taking a lackadaisical attitude in addressing the problem.
“I have been informed that National Action Council on Cost of Living (Naccol) meeting was last held on Dec 13. There has not been any meeting since. If you are serious, do it once every fortnight. But this has not been the case.”
Anwar had set up, for the first time in the country’s history, a Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry to ensure that this issue received adequate attention.
The government has additionally introduced a number of initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of living and aiding those with low incomes, most notably Menu Rahmah and the People’s Income Initiative (Inisiatif Pendapatan Rakyat or IPR).
Despite this, Muhyiddin claimed that Budget 2023 lacks programme to help the poor and needy.
He was particularly critical of the government’s decision to reduce subsidy allocation from RM80 bil last year to RM64 bil this year and to forbids targeted withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
Despite Anwar’s commitment to implement a progressive, targeted subsidy, the Bersatu president stated that there has been no update on its framework and how it will improve rakyat productivity.
On the EPF, Muhyiddin said the government’s plan to give a one-time RM500 “top up” to members aged 40 to 54 with savings under RM10,000 would profit only a small number of people, with the vast majority preferring further withdrawals.
“Contributors did not ask for the RM1billion allocation. They only asked for targeted withdrawals. If the targeted withdrawals is approved, the government could save money and assist areas facing bad floods, as well as solve the issues faced by victims,” he told the Dewan Rakyat. – March 6, 2023
Main pic credit: Bernama