Malaysia

Smaller increment, bonuses not enough to withstand price hikes next year, says DAP

Malaysians can expect higher prices of daily necessities next year amid a series of subsidy removal by Putrajaya. - The Malaysian Insider pic, December 30, 2013.Malaysians can expect higher prices of daily necessities next year amid a series of subsidy removal by Putrajaya. - The Malaysian Insider pic, December 30, 2013.Malaysian workers may find their salary increment and bonuses next year not enough to cope with a series of problems related to price hikes, crime and corruption, said DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Lim said as a result of inflation due to price hikes, smaller salary increments and bonuses meant that ordinary Malaysians would be worse off.

"The average salary increase for non-executives last year was 6.78 %, slightly higher than 6.31% for executives," the Penang Chief Minister said in a statement today, citing a survey by the Malaysian Employers Federation on 257 companies involving more than 13,000 employees, which forecast a salary increase of 5.63% for executives and 5.65% for non-executives, next year.

Lim also cited the Department of Statistics’ indication of a softening of the Malaysian economy, with unemployment rate for October this year increasing to 3.5% from 3.1% the previous month.

Painting a negative outlook, Lim said Malaysians will have to cope not only with inflation but also a hike in fuel prices, power tariff and highway tolls, which he said could have been avoided if Putrajaya practices open tender policies and implement cost cutting measures.

"What ethical authority and justification does the federal government have in raising prices when it refuses to implement open competitive tenders, publicly declare assets and punish those involved in malpractices as exposed in the annual Auditor General Reports?" he asked.

He said while ordinary citizens struggled with rising prices and household debt, now at 83.5% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), the second highest in Asia, BN leaders and family members were buying luxury properties overseas amounting to hundreds of millions of ringgit.

A report by Washington-based financial watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI) recently placed Malaysia fourth in the world in outflow of illicit funds.

Some RM173.84 billion in illicit outflow was recorded in 2011, while the amount was RM1.2 trillion for the period between 2002 and 2011.

Lim (pic, left) referred to the response by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low, who said only RM1 billion of this amount was lost due to corruption annually.

"Even RM1 billion lost annually from corruption is a huge amount," added Lim.

Lim said the ruling on minimum wage for foreign workers should be delayed, saying employers have no problem to abide by the ruling if it benefitted local workers.

He said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have complained that their local workers were unhappy that their foreign counterparts were paid equal salaries.

He said when SMEs paid local workers more than the set minimum wage, the cost of doing business is increased, leading to higher prices of goods, and lowering Malaysia's competitiveness in the global market.

"Some SMEs have complained that they are forced to pay even higher salaries to Malaysian workers because the locals are upset that foreigners are earning the same pay as them," he said, adding that Malaysia would lose out when foreign workers send most of their earnings home.

It was recently reported that foreign workers' remittance to their home countries doubled from RM10 billion in 2009 to almost RM20 billion last year. Bangladesh and Indonesia topped the list, receiving RM3 billion each from their citizens in Malaysia, followed by Nepal (RM2 billion), India (RM625 million) and the Philippines (RM561 million).

"This RM20 billion foreign workers’ remittances are expected to double when the minimum wage is fully enforced," warned Lim. – December 30, 2013.

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