Why are we running everything to the ground? Today it is about cooking oil shortages and the use of recycled bottles to pack cooking oil. Earlier it was water rationing. I am sure most of us have, at one time or another, experienced inconveniences such as a shortage of diesel, sugar, flour, eggs, chicken, beef, rice, and other essentials.
It is strange that as one of the most “governed” countries in the world, we always run short of this and that. Just look at the numbers of regulating agencies and enforcement officers we have. They don’t seem to make much of a difference when compared with other countries with no such outfits.
I am not talking about natural catastrophes here like floods, typhoons and earthquakes that cause supply disruptions. The problems we face are so “man-made”, ranging from sabotage, pilferage, corruption, exploitation, profiteering, smuggling, arbitrage, cheating, taxes, wasteful spending to meagre wages.
Take any problem we face today and I am sure you can pick out the relevant factors highlighted here.
Don’t blame industrialisation or population growth for water contamination and disruption of potable water supply. It is an issue very much related to incompetence, corruption or even sabotage. Two weeks ago it was Semenyih River, today it is Linggi River. When will this baloney end?
Don’t blame the various subsidy programmes for the people but our inability to manage smuggling, corruption, arbitrage, and collusion between business people and public officials. How did subsidies end up benefiting foreigners, exporters and those who are in the position to arbitrage rather than the consumers?
Don’t blame the GST per se. It is our inability to manage prices which have escalated beyond the GST rates, again due to incompetence, cheating and profiteering.
Don’t blame toll rates, electricity tariffs, parking charges, Internet access fees, and university tuition. It is our inability to regulate and control monopolies, collusion and exploitation.
Don’t blame falling oil prices on our fiscal woes. It is our profligate and extravagant ways. Ministers and senior officials get too much perks and privileges. Government contractors, suppliers and consultants get too much profit and compensation for doing little.
We have a big national budget but it delivers only a small output, if you get what I mean. We pump in more money, but there is no corresponding increase in goods and services.
Don’t blame our high cost living on lack of price control or enforcement alone. It is the falling value of our ringgit. Price control and enforcement can’t enhance the value of ringgit, but proper monetary policy management, including appropriate interest rates, money supply, efficiency and productivity can.
Don’t blame stringent loan conditions imposed by banks, blame low income or income decoupled from prices of homes and cars. Loans are not incomes. We are only postponing the problem if we dish out loans to borrowers who have no means of paying it back.
Don’t blame the US Presidential election or Trump as incoming president. These are mere excuses for global excesses to realign and to find their fundamental levels. The centre of gravity has shifted. US power and influence have waned. Trump will not make a significant difference.
The US is just a “bottomless pit” of consumers and a supplier of US Dollars. Has anyone visited China lately?
We must get the fundamentals right: the rest will fall in place.
Source : T.K. Chua@FMT Reporters Online