The movement control order (MCO) has been extended. There also appears no indication that the government would be extending further financial support to low and middle income families. During this current MCO as well as with the extension of the order, more workers will be losing jobs, those working will have their incomes reduced; and all workers and those seeking employment will be very worried of their future as jobs disappear and the economic outlook seems to be increasingly bleak.
Yet households have to continue to meet their financial obligations. One of their current major obligations is their communication and utility bills. For certain as families spend an increasing amount of time at home, their utility and communication bills are expected to increase substantially. This would include the electricity bills, water bills, handphone and internet bills, and astro bills.
With the extension of the MCO as well as lack of future financial support from the government, FOMCA calls on the government to help households by reducing their household bills and thus freeing some cash for food and other essential expenditures.
Families are definitely spending more on their electric bills due to spending all of their time at home coupled with the incredibly how weather. Families are increasing their electricity consumption on their cooking, television and computers, lighting, washing and their air-conditioners.
Households currently enjoy a discount of between 15% up to 50%, to a limit of 600kWh based on the total monthly electricity consumption. Those with energy usage above 600kWh would receive a discount of 2%. Based on the discount announcement by the government, FOMCA has been receiving tremendous feedback and complaints from Consumers and Media through phone calls and social media as they are not satisfied with the discounts offered by the government.
FOMCA is calling on the government to give a flat 50% discount based on previous three months average usage for all rakyat.
The second major bill for many households would be on the handphone and internet bills. FOMCA urges the government to give discounts of up to 50% on all handphone and internet bills during the MCO period to reduce household expenditure on the payment of these bills. FOMCA also urges that astro bills be reduced by 50% during the MCO period.
Households have also been complaining that the price of food and essential items have been increasing. The price of fish for example has increased substantially over the period of the MCO. To combat this price increases, FOMCA had advocated for more price controls over essential foods. While the senior minister had indeed announced that the price control list would be announced and implemented on the 15 April 2020, to date no such price control lists have been announced. Without price controls, prices of food and essentials have been increasing substantially. This has indeed put tremendous pressure on all families, both low and middle income.
With incomes loss or being reduced, with fear and uncertainty about jobs in the future and with no farther financial support from the government to low and middle income families, FOMCA calls on the government to assist families during this difficult times by reducing their financial obligations by reducing their utility and communications bills. It is the least the government can do.
Datuk Dr. Marimuthu Nadason