Living costs soaring globally, but Najib vows help to Malaysians

By Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

Datuk Seri Najib Razak has told Malaysians to “face the fact” that rising cost of living is a global trend as the country continues to grapple with surging inflation.

Although the prime minister promised to help ease the burden of rising prices on the public, he said “Malaysians must face the fact that world prices are unlikely to return to the levels of five years ago.”

“We are not the only ones faced with this problem, and we are certainly not the worst affected. We will devise the best strategies to ease the rakyat’s burden while managing the country’s economic development,” he wrote on his blog in the 1 Malaysia website.

Promising to continue subsidies which are already among the highest in the world, Najib said that Budget 2012, to be tabled in October, would focus on managing inflation as per the administration’s new National Key Results Area on cost of living.

“The government will continue to provide subsidies for daily travel, meals and health bills,” he wrote.

Public concern over price hikes has been heightened further as Putrajaya raised the price of fuel, sugar and electricity in June, a move it said was necessary to avoid the subsidy bill from doubling to RM21 billion.

The Najib administration has committed itself to trim 2009’s two-decade high budget deficit of 7 per cent but is under pressure to contain inflation which hit a two-year peak in March of 3 per cent before continuing to rise to 3.5 per cent in June.