KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9— The government should not dismiss the fact that many Malaysians are struggling to afford to purchase daily groceries by flaunting the statistics of those who can afford to spend and travel abroad, DAP MP Tony Pua said.
The DAP publicity chief was referring to the government’s response to Mydin hypermarket managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin, who in a radio interview recently said the rise in gross domestic product (GDP) did not translate to more spending power among Malaysians, and that this was seen in the continued contraction of hypermarket sales locally.
In response, Minister in Prime Minister’s department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan said that data provided by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) showed hypermarket sales only made up 8 per cent of retail sales in the country and therefore can’t be viewed as the sole basis to gauge the performances of retail sales, the state of the economy or people’s spending power.
The minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit said that Malaysians did indeed have more money to spend as highlighted by increases in domestic tourist expenditures as well as tourist spending abroad.
“If even low-priced hypermarkets like Mydin are facing weakened consumer demand, where does the Minister expect Malaysians to be buying their everyday groceries? Does he think Malaysians are going abroad to do their groceries?” Pua said in a statement.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP pointed out that according to the 2017 Malaysia Retail Industry Report, five Giant hypermarkets were shuttered by owners GCH Retail (Malaysia) back in November.
He said the report also stated that consumers were less likely to spend money in the past year owing to the increasing cost of living, and that hypermarket sales in general had shrunk 3.1 per cent in the first 3 quarters of 2017.
Pua said that this is consistent with the government’s own statistics about how inflation last year was the highest in a long time, averaging 3.7 per cent, and how food and non-alcoholic beverages saw an increase of 4 per cent over the past year.
“Regardless of whether someone is shopping in a hypermarket or a pasar tani, these price increases are present everywhere.
“The Government should not be flaunting the spending statistics of Malaysians who can afford to travel abroad as proof that all Malaysians are better. Worse, they should not be dismissing the very real and loud complains of average Malaysians who struggle to even afford their daily groceries.”