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Cash vouchers for low income group suggested

KUALA LUMPUR, 3 Feb 2009: The government should introduce retail purchase vouchers as cash assistance for low income group of Malaysians under its second economic stimulus plan, the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) suggested.

Its secretary-general, Muhammad Shaani Abdullah said that the vouchers could be exchanged for daily basic necessities like milk, sugar, oil and rice.

“This would help increase the spending power of consumers and also help to stimulate the retail trade,” he told Bernama here.

Last November, the government unveiled a RM7 billion economic package to help the country cope with the present economic crisis. A second package is expected to be announced soon.

Muhammad said such vouchers were also widely being used in Thailand and Taiwan.

Fomca’s other suggestion was to increase fuel subsidy for public transport operators and cut down on fares, he added

This he pointed out would help operators who were burdened with increasing operational costs and provide savings for consumers.

Muhammad felt that the proposal to increase the public transportation fares be shelved for the time being.

The mechanics to manage subsidy already in existence should be fine-tuned and with additional allocations for this sector.

The subsidy for the operators should be tied down with their level of service and this should be monitored by a committee under the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s department.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Retail Chain Association in welcoming the cash voucher scheme suggested that the vouchers should be confined to the purchase of locally manufactured goods.

Its secretary-general, Nelson Kwok, said by doing this it would serve a dual purpose in that it would help the retailer as well as the local manufacturer.

He hoped an efficient and speedy system to distribute the vouchers could be devised.

He also suggested that the government could assist retail shop owners to lower rental and electricity charges.

“If our members can reduce their operational costs, we can then pass this savings to the consumers by lowering prices,” he said.

On employment in the retail sector, Kwok said priority was still given to Malaysians.

“However, we regret that the locals are not keen to work in the retail sector and we are forced to take in foreigners,” he claimed. — Bernama


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