Monday, June 23, 2008


Govt to help low-income group earn more


The Government will issue small business permit to low-income earners who are seeking to increase their income to cope with economic burden following the fuel prices hike, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday. The Prime Minister said Government employees could also apply for the permit, which would cover petty trading and hawker’s licences in locations such as agricultural market, night market and housing areas which had spaces for such purposes. “The permit can be short-term or long-term depending on the applicants’ requirement,” he told reporters after briefing the Barisan Nasional (BN) Members of Parliament on subsidy restructuring at the Auditorium Perdana, Angkasapuri. Answering a question, Abdullah said Government employees, however, needed to get permission from their department heads and that the business should not interfere with their office work. “If this is not causing them to neglect their work, they can apply... subject to approval from the heads of department,” he said. He said the Government was also coming up with plans to help the Orang Asli under the social safety net programme currently being finalised. Abdullah said the Government had also decided on steps to help the small-and-medium industry to cope with the burden arising from the fuel price hike. He said the anti-inflation committee had agreed to the measures but they needed to be scrutinised further by the Finance Ministry as they involved tax matters. “We will decide in the very near future. Although the Treasury has suggested that the matter be announced during the tabling of 2009 Budget in August, I feel that if they can be announced much earlier, it will be of great help to those in need,” he said. The Prime Minister also said following the high global fuel prices, specific directives would be issued to enhance energy efficiency. In this context, he said, the Government had agreed to find other sources of energy such as solar and wind power as well as biofuel and the possibility of developing nuclear energy. “But we need to study this (developing nuclear energy) because it is not easy to dispose of nuclear waste,” he said, adding that several companies had expressed interest in developing solar and wind power facilities. He said steps would also be taken to increase productivity in the commodity sector, such as oil palm, without increasing the areas for plantation. “This is a possibility which we can now implement following the advancement in technology,” said Abdullah. He said the Government also wanted to ensure that the innovation and creativity sector be strengthened, and administrative efficiency be enhanced, to lower the cost of doing business in Malaysia so that the country would continue to be a profitable business destination even with the high fuel price. He said Malaysians might also need to change their lifestyle, particularly in minimising waste in their daily lives. “I don’t mean we should be stingy. It’s just that we should avoid wastage... in good times or bad.” He said the short-term and long-term measures identified by the Government should be implemented for the benefit of the people in the long run. Asked how far the people accepted the fuel price hike recently, Abdullah said, there were those who understood the necessity due to the global oil price hike. “But there are those who still complain... that the hike is too high. But they should also accept the fact that despite the increase the government also implemented measures to lighten their burden,” he said. Abdullah said the people, however, are only interested in reacting to the issue and not the measures taken by the Government.