The National Cost of Living Action Council will focus on six key cluster working group committees, namely food, housing, education, transportation, utilities, and health, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
"We took several proactive measures in the matter after taking into account the problems which have developed into issues for the people.
“The cost of living does not only cover the prices of goods, food and beverages… hence, we took into account all aspects based on the clusters that have been set up,” he said after chairing a meeting of the National Cost of Living Action Council in Kuala Lumpur today.
Zahid said he wanted all the cluster meetings to be reported to the Cabinet for scrutiny, inputs and monitoring.
The meeting, with the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry as the secretariat, was attended by several cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, secretaries-general of ministries, senior officers from the relevant ministries, departments and agencies, as well as the council members appointed from among academicians and from NGOs.
Zahid, who is also the home minister, said several representatives from universities and organisations were appointed to obtain their views, not only to address cost-of-living issues, but also assist in the long-term plans of the government.
"I have authorised Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Hamzah Zainuddin, the deputy minister, secretary-general and departments under the ministry to promptly coordinate the clusters so that we do not sweep the problems under the carpet,” he said.
He expressed confidence in several proactive measures of the ministry, such as the “Jualan Sentuhan Rakyat” and the 1Malaysia People’s Shops (KR1M) 2.0 aimed at safeguarding the people’s interests and welfare.
Asked about Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V lauding the continuous efforts by the government to address issues facing the people yesterday, especially the cost of living, Zahid said the government thanked His Majesty for the commendation and added that the government should translate its commitment through the immediate implementation of programmes.
Consumer price index
Meanwhile, the home minister also said the meeting today also took into account the explanation by Bank Negara on the country’s current economic situation, the worldwide rising cost of living due to factors such as higher prices of raw materials, increase in production cost, rise in population as well as higher demand than supply.
He said these factors contributed to the high cost of living in the urban and rural areas, and also affected the prices of food items, housing, transportation, utilities, education and health as reflected in the consumer price index (CPI), which recorded an increase of 3.7 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.
The group index for food and non-alcoholic drinks in 2017 was also a major contributor to the increase in the CPI, with an increase of 4 percent caused by the increase in the index for food outside the home (+4.8 percent) and food in the home (+3.7 percent). The index for coffee, tea, cocoa and non-alcoholic beverages dropped 0.3 percent.
Among the sub-groups of food in the home that saw a significant rise during the period were oils and fats (+13.3 percent), fish and seafood (+6.7 percent), vegetables (+4.0 percent), fruits (+3.4 percent) and meat (+3.1 percent), he said.
Zahid said other major groups that contributed to the rise in the CPI in 2017 were transportation (+13.2 percent), health (+2.5 percent), restaurants and hotels (+2.5 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (+2.2 percent), as well as decorations, furniture and household maintenance (+2.1 percent).
Core inflation, which did not include fresh food items at the most volatile prices as well as price-controlled goods and services, recorded a change in the range of 2.2 percent to 2.6 percent last year, he said.