KOTA KINABALU: Employers and consumers are beginning to feel the financial pressure leading up to Chinese New Year on February 8.
For starters, all imported Chinese New Year goods, such as Chinese sausages, preserved duck, canned and dried mushrooms are 30 to 50 per cent more expensive.
Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI) president Datuk Michael Lui Yen Sang said parents would feel the pressure to scrap enough money to buy Chinese New Year goods, especially when schools just reopened not long ago on January 4.
He said parents who had to deal with their household burden, new academic year and assessment tax at the start of the year would have limited disposable income for the coming festive season.
“Traditionally, we will be feeling the Chinese New Year atmosphere two weeks before.
“But I think the market will be quieter now,” he said when contacted yesterday.
Similarly, Lui said employers also felt the pressure to disburse bonus for their employees so the latter could buy Chinese New Year goods, and the situation was far from favourable.
He said employers would normally award their employees the same amount of bonus as per the year before, but many employers were in trouble themselves and might have to drastically reduce their employees’ bonus.
“Some companies are also showing the telltale signs of impending closure.”
Lui said many sectors were facing the risk of closure because of the huge pressure, including government policies.
For instance, he said business operators in Penampang had to start paying a fee for second signboard affixed to their premises this year, which he estimated to be around RM7 per square foot.
Even Lui’s trading house, Syarikat Lui Kim Chock Sdn Bhd, which distributes consumer goods, is seeing less order for hampers by corporate bodies to be given out to their clients and business partners this year.
He said the current situation was caused by the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), depreciation of the Malaysian ringgit and weak commodity prices.
Asked what the government could do to alleviate consumers’ burden, Lui hoped that the State Government could emulate the Selangor state in exempting low-income households and residents of low-cost housing from assessment tax this year, which would benefit not only the Chinese community, but also other races as well.