GEORGE TOWN, Jan 2 — The Youth wing of DAP Penang today challenged its MCA counterpart to a debate on rising prices following the latter’s accusation that the Pakatan Rakyat state administration also introduced price hikes.
Penang DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) deputy chief Chris Lee Chun Kit, in defending the Penang state government, said the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government had imposed price hikes that directly affect the people and caused inflation.
“PR state governments have always been consistent in its struggle to the welfare of the people, unlike BN,” he said.
Yesterday, Penang MCA Youth chief Lee Beng Seng accused PR state governments of imposing hikes such as an increase in commercial licence fees of 400 per cent by the Subang Jaya Municipal Council and in Penang, raising land conversion fee on developers, increasing commercial building permit fees, introducing a levy on hotel rooms, and proposing an increase in parking fees.
Chris defended the increase in licensing fees in Selangor by saying that charging companies once a year and taxing the people every time they spent with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was not the same.
“There is a difference between taxing companies and price increases that directly affects the people,” he said in a joint press conference with Bukit Bendera Dapsy chief Mohd Hariszuan Jaharudin at the DAP Bukit Bendera service centre.
“So, is he saying it is better to directly tax the people than taxing companies?” Chris asked.
Since September, Putrajaya has embarked on aggressive cost-cutting measures after pressure grew for it to rein in a chronic budget deficit that traces back to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, and which has left Malaysia’s national debt at just below a critical legal ceiling.
Among others, Putrajaya has reduced fuel subsidies, removed price control for sugar, allowed an increase in electricity tariffs and confirmed the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST), all within the space of four months.
PR leaders have criticised the moves as measures that could cause inflation and further burden Malaysians with higher costs of living.
In contrast to the price hikes by Putrajaya, Chris said the Penang and Selangor state governments had taken steps to provide free water and the Equitable Economic Agenda (AES/Agenda Ekonomi Saksama), which are structural and fundamental initiatives to assist the people.
“In Penang, the state has also taken steps to reduce an inflation of property prices and the proposed parking fee increase is a way to reduce traffic congestion,” he said.
He also accused Putrajaya of undermining the Penang state government’s efforts to help the people, such as in the area of public transportation.
Currently, public transportation is under the Transport Ministry and Chris blamed the federal government’s unwillingness to improve public transportation in the state for the traffic congestion problem in Penang.
“If public transportation is good, the people wouldn’t have to depend on private vehicles and there will be less traffic and ownership of private vehicles will be a choice rather than a necessity,” he said.