Irwan Serigar: Lifestyle cost should not be factored in the cost of living


CYBERJAYA: Lifestyle cost is often confused with the cost of living and inflation in Malaysia, said Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

He said Malaysians tend to add up the lifestyle cost to their cost of living and assume the country's inflation is high.

"This is not true. Basic food items like rice and basic needs are considered as inflationary cost and country's inflation currently stands at 3.5 per cent which is considered low.

"On the contrary, the annual salary increase of Malaysians are between five to six per cent. This should be able to cover the inflationary cost," he told reporters today.

Irwan said problems arose when people lived beyond their means.

"If you add the lifestyle cost, of course certain things are beyond our means. If luxury things are added into our daily expenditure, this is when people start complaining.It shouldn't be a problem if you live within your means," he said.

He said the government had done so much for the bottom 40 per cent of household income group (B40), citing the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) and free education.

"Our economy is growing. Not to worry, this country is a prosperous country," he added.

He said this following popular singer Datuk Sheila Majid's recent tweet where she had lamented on the high cost of living, unemployment and the weak ringgit.

Earlier, Irwan, who is also the Cyberview Sdn Bhd chairman,had launched the e-wallet TaPay (Take.Action.Pay), a joint effort between Fullrich Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Cyberview Sdn Bhd (Cyberview) and Affin Bank Group.

"With the launch of the first community-built e-paying system, we hope Cyberjaya will become the first cashless city in the country.

"We are looking at engaging more retailers here first as part of our pilot project. This is because Cyberjaya is a smart city where a majority of its residents are internet and technology savvy," he said.

After Cyberjaya, Irwan said, TaPay would be rolled out to the Klang Valley, other parts of the country and hopefully to the Asean community.

This, he said, was in line with the Bank Negara Malaysia's target to reduce cash dependency by 63 per cent of the country's total of transactions and increase the number of e-payment transactions to 200 per capita.

It is hoped that this new ecosystem will be able to reduce and replace the use of credit card and debit card in the future.

Irwan also called for the participation of more local banks like CIMB, Maybank and RHB to collaborate with Fullrich on this cashless initiative.

"We need a change in mindset of the people to seek knowledge and learn about the e-payment system.

"This is what the government seeks from the business community so that they remain relevant and be on par with the Chinese mobile wallet Alipay, which will be another option of payment by next year.

"This is also in line with Malaysia's aspiration to further boost its digital economy initiatives as this will be the new source of growth for its gross domestic product," he added.

Earlier, Irwan also witnessed the signing of a definitive agreement and four memoranda between Fullrich, Cyberview, Affin Bank, Picksum, AladdinStreet and Myrelo Sdn Bhd. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd