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Saturday, July 30, 2022

It’s hard to be patient for economy to recover

 


Last Friday night was my regular basketball night with my buddies and what we look forward to at the end of every work-filled week. The basketball game really isn’t the point of the evening. It’s just hanging out with old friends, sweating it out a little bit, talking a bit of crap with each other and then hanging out at the mamak till late.

Okay, the truth is, hanging out at the mamak is the priority. We play for about two hours but end up having glass after glass of teh tarik for more than three hours after that laughing the night away. We talk about everything that will make us laugh, from reminiscing about old times to just joking around and making fun of each other.

But last night was a little bit different. Someone had to take the conversation toward the economy. We started reflecting on how bad it is and how things are starting to cost more. Chicken is more expensive, the cooking oil price has increased, there is a vegetable shortage, and salaries are not going up, just a general damper.

One of my friends who works at a semi-government agency said that a majority of his staff members are feeling the pinch. There is a spectrum, from those who have had to cut back on things like Starbucks coffee and the regular McDonald’s outings for the children, to the more concerning ones like being unable to buy groceries close to the end of the month.

The conversation went to our electricity bill next. Every single one of us feels that our monthly bill has increased even if, on paper, the tariff has not actually gone up. Maybe it’s because of all the other increments in cost that we feel paying for our utilities have become a little bit tougher. Then we all went home not feeling particularly great.

Just a couple of days ago, I went to the nearby sundry shop to buy my youngest son’s milk formula and discovered that it has gone up by an exorbitant amount. A 1.2kg box of formula that used to cost RM74 has now gone up to RM86. This only happened in the span of about three months. If this trend continues, I am going to be screwed.

Jihad Against Inflation Task Force

So, what is the government doing? They set up the Jihad Against Inflation Task Force. Way to go to take back the term ‘Jihad’ from the Islamophobic and giving it a positive connotation. But, has it really been that effective? It has been about a month now since it was set up and I think people are anxious to see some results.

According to recent news reports, the task force is producing results. It has been shown that the inflation index in Malaysia has increased quite a bit more than the usual trend between June 2021 and now, however, the task force’s focus on controlling prices and enforcement has been effective.

However, reports like this, although it might seem to be good public relations for the government, really mean nothing much to the ordinary layperson. I read it and think that although it is great that the authorities have been able to limit the maximum price of palm oil and that they have been successful in curbing profiteering by traders, I’m still feeling the pinch.

A can of isotonic drink, a glass of teh ais and a plate of Bombay Toast last night cost me around RM15, as compared to it being around RM10 before. I haven’t done a detailed cost analysis of my groceries but what used to cost me between RM200 to RM300 a week just a year ago is now costing me between RM300 to RM400.

It has also been reported in the news that it does look like the Malaysian economy will start to improve because of the opening up of tourism and trade. The International Monetary Fund recently said that it looks like the Malaysian economy could be on a rebound because of this.

I really pray and hope that these predictions and forecasts are true and that we are on a rebound. But I am still unsatisfied because my costs today are still exorbitantly high and taxing on my finances. I am sure that this is the case with many Malaysians too. How long can we wait for things to improve?

I understand that it takes time and we need to be patient. But it is hard to be patient when it involves actually putting food on the table for the family to eat. All I want is to not worry about paying for necessities and just to be able to have a nice Friday night out at the basketball court and mamak with my friends. - Mkini


ZAN AZLEE is a writer, documentary film-maker, journalist and academic. He had waited so long for a change in the system and he is not willing to settle for a half-past-six change. And then the Sheraton Move happened. Visit fatbidin.com to view his work.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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