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Prices go on steeper climb as employment slides

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Malaysians are set for a double whammy as official statistics show prices making steeper climbs, while employment and wages shrink.

The consumer price index (CPI) for January 2016 shows that prices last month were 3.5 percent higher than they were in January 2015, the Department of Statistics announced today.

This hike is sharper than in December 2015, when the rise was 2.7 percent year-on-year.

At the same time, the coincident index (CI), which measures economic activity, declined by 0.1 percent in December 2015, compared with the previous month.

Notable decreases, the Statistics Department said, was employment in the manufacturing sector (-0.2 percent) and real salaries in the manufacturing sector (-0.2 percent).

“This implies that the Malaysia’s economic expansion will continue at a slower pace in the near term,” said the statement issued by the Office of the Chief Statistician.

This comes after the United Nations Millennium Development Goal report on Malaysia released showed Malaysia’s bottom 40 percent of households (B40) to be hardest hit by the goods and services tax (GST).

Introduced at six percent in April 2015, the tax shaves off what little savings the B40 can make, after using an average of 79 percent of their monthly income on household needs, the UN report said.

A total of 2.7 million households make up the B40, who make less than RM3,000 a month.

The Statistics Department said the rise in the CPI was driven by price hikes in 12 major groups of consumer items, leading with alcohol and tobacco, which recorded a jump of 22.6 percent.

Food and non-alcoholic items are 3.9 percent pricier compared with the January 2015 prices, it said.

Other notable hikes include:

  • Housing, water, electricity, gas & other fuels - 3.1 percent;

  • Furnishings, household equipment & routine household management - 4.1 percent;
  • Health - 4.6 percent;
  • Transport - 0.6 percent;
  • Recreation services & culture - 2.3 percent;
  • Education - 2.6 percent; and
  • Restaurant & hotel - 4.5 percent.
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