“Devoid of empathy”: Govt’s decision to raise utilities charges disappointing, says Wanita MCA

WANITA MCA national chairperson Wong You Fong has expressed disappointment about the government’s decision to increase utility charges, calling the decision “devoid of empathy” for the difficulties people are ensuring to reduce purchasing power.

She was referring to the recent announcement that the RM0.02 per kWh rebate would no longer be applicable for domestic electricity consumption of 601 to 1,500 kWh in West Malaysia effective Jan 1, 2024.

Wong also cited the National Water Services Commission’s (SPAN) announcement that water rates will increase by an average of 22 sen per cubic metre from Feb 1, 2024.

“The escalation in electricity and water bills will reap a chain reaction, all of which will only exacerbate inflation and inflict more misery unto people’s daily lives,” she said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 18).

“The surge in utility charges coupled with a flood of new and heightened taxes enforced by the government from this year onwards necessitate the Madani government to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the hardship which the rakyat are being confronted with.”

According to Wong, water and electricity charges are the most basic expenses for every household and the heavy load people are carrying will only grow more burdensome.

“Since last year, MCA President Datuk Seri Ir Dr Wee Ka Siong in the Dewan Rakyat has highlighted about the Imbalance Cost Pass-Through (ICPT) which eventually leads to a spike in electricity bills by nearly 40%,” she remarked.

“Although Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has repeatedly assured that the adjusted charges will not affect household users and small and medium businesses, the reality on the ground speaks otherwise.

“The higher operation costs from an ascent in electric bills are eventually passed down to people.”

The new and heightened taxes mentioned by Wong included the 10% sales tax imposed on imported low value goods (LVG) purchased on e-commerce platforms, the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, the increase of the sales and service tax (SST) from 6% to 8% as well as the 8% SST on traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) services.

“The additional expenses individuals and families have to fork out are certainly forcing many families into unbearable difficulties,” Wong stressed.

“Moreover, the government intends to implement targeted subsidies, thereby indirectly coercing citizens to register their personal data into the Central Database Hub (PADU) system.

“However, PADU has been found to contain loopholes and errors. Will such technical faults render many eligible groups to be unable to receive subsidies due to various reasons?”

She said given the rainfall of challenges that had wrecked undue adversities onto people’s lives, upping the water and electricity tariffs is not a wise move for now.

“Wanita MCA urges the government to suspend the relevant decisions and allow people some breathing space. Refrain from executing various measures that only pounds more pressure unto people’s lives,” she added. – Jan 18, 2024


Main pic credit: Malaysiaaktif

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