News / Asia

    Malaysians Brace Themselves as Government Cuts Key Subsidies

    Malaysians Brace As Government Cuts Key Subsidies to Balance Budgeti
    X
    January 08, 2014 2:21 PM
    Malaysian authorities are slashing subsidies on fuel, natural gas and sugar in a bid to get government debt under control. As the steps take a hit on consumers’ finances, critics say authorities should instead target government waste and graft. Mahi Ramakrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur.
    Malaysian authorities are slashing subsidies on fuel, natural gas and sugar in a bid to get government debt under control. As the steps take a hit on consumers’ finances, critics say authorities should instead target government waste and graft.
     
    The Malaysian government has been running deficits since the Asian financial crisis in 1998. Late last year, it took its first major step to reign in spending by slashing huge fuel subsidies.

    People, like mother of two Chan Sook Peng, say that prices of essential goods have already shot up since then.
     
    “Actually I am very worried. We just try to go out less, eat out less, cook more at home, pull all our plugs from the power source just to try and save our electricity. We try to save our water,” says Peng.
     
    Malaysians are bracing themselves for worse to come.

    The government has said it will introduce a long-delayed Goods and Services Tax starting next year. And it recently announced increases to highway tolls, electricity tariffs and public transportation fares. Economist Yeah Kim Leng of the Rating Agency of Malaysia supports the moves.
     
    “Its important that the government rationalize the subsidies because it now makes up more than half the fiscal deficit and that in itself is not sustainable,” said Leng.
     
    Only around one tenth of Malaysia’s working population actually pays income tax. And the government relies on the royalties from the state oil company, Petronas, for up to 40 percent of its revenue.
     
    Some distribution of the burden is therefore needed, says Leng.
     
    “This so-called overreliance on the national oil company is actually not prudent. So that's the basis for actually implementing the long-awaited GST,” says Leng.
     
    The political opposition says it is not against trimming subsidies or other spending cuts in principle.

    But opposition politician Rafizi Ramli of the People’s Justice Party points to the government’s own auditor general’s reports, which he says show a huge waste of public funds year after year. 
     
    “No matter how many new taxes you implement, no matter how [many] new stream[s] of income you bring to the government, unless there is a discipline to get rid of wastages [waste], corruption, to re-look at the procurement practices of the country, it's like pouring money into a black hole,” says Ramli.
     
    International surveys indicate Malaysia is comparatively less corrupt than other countries in Southeast Asia.  Just before the new year, Prime Minister Najib Razak did announce some cuts to spending allowances for Members of Parliament and civil servants.
     
    But busy Malaysian mother Chan Sook Peng say those cuts are nothing compared to the sacrifices people like her will have to make just to get by.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.