16 November, 2008

Livability beyond Economics


For the past months, the Government has been pro active in ensuring respectable economic livability for all Malaysians. This has been my primary focus – to examine the current global economic crisis and the challenges it carries to the households of Malaysia. I mentioned in the Parliament that we are not in denial about the crisis’s effects to our economy and we are engaging the situation on a daily basis. At the same time, I strongly believe, as a whole, we are amongst the better nations in the world that has watertight economic fundamentals to endure one of the worst global economic crisis.

We’ve been making progress. Petrol and diesel prices have been brought down accordingly. Fuel prices are now more directly related to the global market and are reviewed on a bi-monthly basis. A stimulus package which channels RM7billion of savings on fuel subsidies back into the economy was introduced and on track for first quarter 2009 implementation. The 30 per cent bumiputra equity mandates was also recently looked at to spur participation in Malaysian corporates. Continuous yet gradual tweaking of the NEP is ongoing. I am also encouraged by the support of Malaysian businesses in managing food price levels such as the recently announced reduction on meal prices such as roti canai and nasi kandar.

With that in mind, we are working to provide more immediate relief to the consumer. I was very encouraged by what I observed at the Kempen Penurunan Harga campaign initiated by the hypermarket chain Carrefour a few days ago. Several hypermarkets and supermarkets, including Mydin, Jusco, Tesco, Giant, The Store, had also boarded this initiative. This six-month effort will see prices of at least 1,000 essential goods, including rice, vegetables, fish, poultry, meat, dry goods and others reduced further.

As Minister of Finance, part of my role is to ensure that the economy is on track, stable, and growing that the needs of our commercial sectors and markets are met. The above measures will accomplish just that and they will strengthen our domestic growth and improve market confidence. After a hard day’s work, all of us deserve to enjoy a good dinner with our family having known that the government initiatives flow to that very dinner table.

Collectively, the measures above will cushion the domestic economic necessary for us to work on the other challenges that face us as individuals and communities. In the current economic scenario, it is absolutely crucial that we do not just make sound macroeconomic policies, but to also have comprehensive livability economics measures so that it manifests itself to that person on the street. By this, I mean reasonable accommodation for all, education fund for the loved ones, an affordable journey to work and a good family dinner, that occasional entertainment and leisure activities that we enjoy doing as well as some savings for a rainy day. I assure you that more steps are to come, certainly, as we carve our livability together as proud Malaysians.