The government should under Budget 2017, consider lowering the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate to 3 per cent from 6 per cent at present.
Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor (CASSA) President, Datuk Dr. Jacob George said, even though the proposal is hard to implement, the government should consider due to the high cost of living, rising unemployment and weak consumer spending.
Some employers have also laid off workers as companies want to downsize operations as well as due to the economic slowdown.
George said, the rising cost of living which is soaring now is felt by all levels of society and workers, both the low-income, and the middle income groups.
“Whether or not the government is aware of it, supermarkets, shopping centres and night markets are increasingly deserted. It’s hard for consumers to spend when they have to tighten their belts.
“There are heads of families who worked three jobs to put food on the table for their children, make ends meet to ensure household and school expenses are enough.
“Therefore, I suggest that the government reduce the GST rate to 3.0 per cent so that the consumers can ‘breathe’,” he told MalaysiaGazette.
He added, all parties acknowledged the implementation of GST has a significant impact on people’s lives because food prices, especially, are rising, even though it has been clarified by the government.
He said the problem occurred because government enforcement agencies did not monitor when the GST was first enforced.
“If monitoring is not done, the price of the same item in store A is not the same as store B, C and D.
George also requested the Prime Minister to consider imposing restrictions on the entry of foreign workers into the country because their presence has affected the livelihoods of the local residents.
He explained, the local population is now finding it difficult to get jobs because they have to compete with the foreigners even in sectors that are not supposed to be in the first place.
“At the supermarkets, cashiers are foreign workers. So much so that Indonesians can open stores in Chow Kit, and Brickfields is brimming with Bangladeshis.
“Even the grocery stores are filled with foreign workers,” said George who did not agree with the government’s view that Malaysians do not want to work in the 3D or ‘dirty, dangerous and difficult’ employment sector.
“If the salary paid commensurate, who do not want to work in the sector, and the government should be transparent in exposing the sectors involved,” he explained.
He said dependency on foreign workers should be reduced as it does not gel with Malaysia’s aspiration to become high income nation.
“We need skilled workers in Malaysia, not an influx of unskilled foreign workers,” he said.