PUTRAJAYA, June 6 — The government will announce details on four swift measures by early next week aimed at easing the burden on consumers as a result of the recent sharp increase in fuel prices and electricity tariffs, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today.
In a meeting with senior editors here, he said the four measures entailed cost-saving measures by government departments and agencies, expanding the social safety net for people in the lower income bracket and under-privileged groups like single mothers and the handicapped, enlarging the list of controlled items to keep costs down, and improving public transport like putting more buses on the roads.
Abdullah said the government was extremely mindful of the burden on the people as a result of the price increases on fuel and electricity tariffs.
He said raising fuel prices and electricity tariffs was not something that the government liked to do but it had to bite the bullet now to prepare for the long-term benefit of the nation and future generations.
Abdullah said government officials entrusted with working out the details would be working over the weekend so that they could be announced early next week.
Elaborating on the measures, he said the government's cost-cutting effort would include reducing overseas travel and the number of officials involved and such savings would be used in other areas to benefit the people.
As for expanding the social safety net, he said this would mean enlarging the threshold to cover more people who were in the lower income and under-privileged groups.
Citing an example, he said there were already schoolchildren getting free school uniform and meals and enlarging the number would mean more would benefit.
Abdullah said that with the government recognising the likelihood of increased food prices following the increased fuel prices and electricity tariffs, the number of essential items on the price control list would be expanded to keep costs down.
Such a move would ensure that the people would not be heavily burdened by higher food prices, he said.
Abdullah said there were other areas that the government was looking at aimed at reducing the burden on Malaysians affected.
He also announced the establishment of a National Inflation Council comprising members from both the government and private sectors. It would hold its first meeting on Monday. — Bernama