Zeti: We'll support those feeling the pinch

This is written by my colleague Roziana Hamsawi.

KUALA LUMPUR: Low- and medium-income households whose purchasing power has shrunk because of rising inflation need to be supported, Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz said yesterday.  She said the government is doing its best to increase the supply and distribution of food items, including accessing food sources at lower costs.

"All these sources will rein in the amount of the rate at which our inflation will increase," she said, adding that this must be addressed to ensure the country's future growth prospects will not be undermined.

Zeti said inflation is now at 3.5 per cent due largely to the very high commodity and energy prices, the latter's oil price has reached US$99 (RM295.02) per barrel.

"This has resulted in higher food and fuel prices and of course this is very much felt because these items are the main component in our consumption basket."  The government, she noted, has been directing a lot of efforts to address the inflation issue and "other areas we will address is to see how we can provide support, especially to the low- and medium-income levels."

Zeti added that addressing rising inflation is a focus now because if left unchecked, it can easily damage the sustainability of the country's economic growth. She spoke to reporters after announcing the issuance of commemorative coins for Malaysia's new third coins series here yesterday.

The country's inflation increased last month after a hike in power tariffs. Bank Negara, however, had kept borrowing costs unchanged at 3 per cent.

The central bank had in March said that consumer prices may climb 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent this year from 1.7 per cent in 2010.

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