Wednesday, July 6

Inflation remains low, more efforts to ease cost of living

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THE inflation rate in the country remained low at 1.4 per cent in August 2012, but needed to be controlled as prices of food commodities had shown an upward trend due to various global factors.

According to the report issued by the Finance Ministry, the increased price of food commodities was due to the rising prices of agricultural inputs, drought, floods, limited resources, competing uses of commodities for biofuel and increasing demand arising from the population growth.

Thus, the government had been providing a lot of facilities and allocation in its efforts to mitigate the impact of inflation to the rakyat especially the bottom 40 per cent of households.

To check the cost of living, a total of RM2.2 billion was distributed to 4.3 million families with a monthly income of RM3,000 and below, under the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) initiative.

A schooling assistance of RM100 was given to all primary and secondary school students, while a further assistance of book vouchers worth RM200 was provided to students in public and private higer learning institutions as well as matriculation and Form Six students. These two assistance amounted to RM545 million and RM244 million respectively.

In the effort to ensure sufficient food supply and increase the added value of the agro-food sector, the National Agro food Policy 2011-2020 was launched in January this year with RM1.1 billion allocated to various projects including to improve padi yield and the construction of a barrage in the Northern Terengganu Integrated Agroculture Development (KETARA), and some irrigation projects in Sabah and Sarawak.

The report stated that the scope under the Commercial Agricultural Fund was extended to include innovative agriculture project to further modernise the sector, whereby Agrobank had disbursed RM418.2 million to finance 42 agricultural projects.

Another RM14 million was allocated to extend the contract farming programme and at the same time, the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (FAMA) had expended RM6.1 million in marketing more than 191,000 tonnes of agriculture produce.

For basic needs, among assistance given were rebates on electricity bills for household monthly consumption of RM20 and less, the introduction of 1Malaysia Rakyat’s Welfare (KAR1SMA) programme which provides welfare assistance to the poor, elderly and the disabled; increasing the number of Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M), opening more Agro Bazaar Kedai Rakyat and expanding the number of 1Malaysia products.

According to the report, continuous efforts have been taken to provide affordable and quality houses to the rakyat through the My First Home Scheme and the allocation of funds for several projects under the 1Malaysia Perople Housing (PR1MA) programme, Program Perumahan Rakyat (PPR), Rumah Mesra Rakyat 1Malaysia (RMR1M) as well as the Abandoned Housing Rahabilitation Programme and Special Housing Fund for Fisherman. — Bernama