LETTER | 2019 is going to be an increasingly challenging year for consumers. Finding jobs is becoming increasingly difficult. Incomes are low and they are stagnating. The global as well as the domestic economic environment seems increasingly challenging.
Worse, costs of living keeps increasing. Prices of fresh and cooked food keeps increasing. Houses are unaffordable. Public transport authorities have still not adequately addressed the issue of the last mile, forcing consumers to use cars or taxis to get to the LRT station or to go home.
Petroleum price have not dropped as expected while toll fares continue to sap the expenditure of low and middle income households. Public healthcare system is over-whelmed while private healthcare is extremely expensive.
While adequate child care is crucial, it continues to increase in price. For the poor, a comprehensive safety net is yet to be in place affecting the minimal quality of life for them. Not enough is being done by policymakers to address the sufferings of the consumers. Consumers continue to suffer.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) hopes that the government will commit to creating employment and ensuring fairer and better wages.
On the consumption side, we hope that rigorous enforcement and regulatory measures can be undertaken to reduce the prices of food and essentials, build affordable homes, reduce cost of petrol and reduce tolls, build a reliable, well-connected and affordable public transport, have an accessible and affordable healthcare and improve child care support services.
Further, we are badly in need of a comprehensive social safety system so that the very poor would be able to enjoy a minimum standard of living.
Consumers also need to better manage their consumption and their finances. An initial first step could simply to track one’s expenses. Then based on the actual expenditure to plan to better manage their consumption based on needs rather than wants.
Also every consumer needs to make a commitment to regular savings. Further through various tools and websites on the internet, consumers need to empower oneself through knowledge and skills to better manage their finances.
There are also too many instances of consumers being victims of scams. In the current technological era, where so much of our personal data is being accessed by irresponsible and criminal elements, consumer need to exercise extra caution in responding to emails or other forms of electronic messages.
Further on any scheme that promise exceptionally high returns, one needs to take extra precautions to ensure that it is not just another scam. In the issue of scam, regulatory protection is greatly limited. Consumers have to take greater care to protect themselves.
Welcome to 2019.
The writer is Fomca secretary-general.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.