By M.Vivekananthan Political Analyst
EVER bought anything out of impulse and then regretted it latter? It is imperative to decide if the product we purchase fit our needs as inflation keeps rising and doesn’t look like it will be coming down anytime soon.
Consumers need to be smart as they have the power to control the rate of increase in prices of goods and services that is dependent on the interaction between demand and supply components of a market.
Malaysians are still blessed with a low inflation rate of below 3% compared with the United States’ more than 8% and other less-fortunate countries like Venezuela (1,198 per cent) and Sudan (340 per cent), whose rates are far above the global average of 7.4 per cent based on the world population review in January this year.
Unfortunately, Malaysians produce 38,000 tonnes of solid waste every day. Of that amount, about 17,000 tonnes is food waste, of which an estimated 4,046 tonnes, or 24%, is avoidable food waste. This amount can feed three million people with three meals a day. The trend of food wastage increases by 15%-20% during festive seasons.
Therefore, Malaysians should not over-prepare food, and reduce food wastage to avoid food ending up in landfills. Malaysians should value food and avoid waste.
Annually, Malaysia imports over RM50 billion worth of basic foodstuffs such as rice, beef, lamb and cabbage.
As for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, he is popular for “Jihad Against Middlemen” campaign which he first introduced in 2014.
Now, the government has reinstated the campaign to tackle price manipulation and hoarding of goods. The National Farmers Organisation has been tasked to lead the campaign.
We are happy with the removal of APs for imported food substances as it would address escalating prices and ensure sufficient food supply in the country. This would also create excess of supplies in the market that would benefit consumers, as food products are easily available compared to the current situation.
Therefore, competition in the open market will help to drive down the cost of imported goods and help local entrepreneurs to become key players in the international market.
As the cost of living spirals, Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had taken a bold step to protect consumers, but will the Prime Minister go the extra mile and scrap APs for the other sectors too.
Though there is a possibility of a price war in the market, but what is needed is to sustain demand from customers.
The government’s decision to abolish APs for food products was a strategic step in the short term as import activities will result in a drop to the ringgit’s value that will ultimately cause prices to rise.
There is enough data to show that the world is on the brink of an unprecedented food security crisis and the abolition of the AP makes it easier for anyone with the network and connections to bring in goods from anywhere and consumers do not have to rely on those who monopolise imports or food cartels.
Consumers too must adapt their behaviour to save money, including choosing cheaper brands, reduce spend on non-essentials and cutting on luxuries.
Inflation refers to a general progressive increase in prices of goods and services in an economy which in some way could affect the purchasing power of consumers.
The prime minister had also announced the abolition of the AP for wheat including whole chicken and chicken parts to allow importers to provide more sources of supply and simplify the subsidy claim process by poultry producers.
The government’s bold move to immediately abolish the APs requirement for food items can lead to the removal of cartels, middlemen and help keep prices down to protect the interest of Malaysian Family consumers.
Subscriptions are another expense people plan to cut back on, with a quarter of people already cancelling services like Netflix, Spotify and other entertainment channels.
Indeed, more shoppers say they have already started to swap their tried and trusted brands for supermarket value ranges or cheaper alternatives.
Being a smart consumer is more than just saying saving money on your purchases or getting on your money’s worth.
M.Vivekananthan is Political Analyst