Be­ing pop­ulist is not bad for busi­ness

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Short Position -

ONE thing that may es­cape the at­ten­tion of many is that ever since the Pakatan Hara­pan gov­ern­ment came into power, it has not been busi­ness as usual.

What that means is that while com­pa­nies are con­tin­u­ing with their op­er­a­tions, the prece­dence has been the wel­fare of Malaysians.

Take the sugar tax. There will be a 40 sen tax per litre im­posed on drinks that have more than five grammes of sugar or sugar-based sweet­ener per 100 ml. Even sweet­ened fruit and veg­etable juices that have more than 12 grammes of sugar per 100 ml will pay the tax which comes into ef­fect on April 1, 2019. Smok­ers will soon not be al­lowed to puff away in­doors and that will have an im­pact on the sale of cig­a­rettes.

The other has been en­ergy. The gov­ern­ment is push­ing to lower the car­bon foot­print for Malaysia and from next year, peo­ple can rent so­lar pan­els to be in­stalled free of charge on their rooftops. The ex­cess power gen­er­ated can be sold at the same price the power is paid for from Te­naga Na­sional Bhd and the maths on that will need to be worked on to see how that will be ben­e­fi­cial to the peo­ple.

Then there is the will­ing­ness to get crowd­fund­ing in­volved in fund­ing of houses. It is a novel scheme that is fraught with risks but that, along with Bank Ne­gara dish­ing out RM1­bil for af­ford­able hous­ing, will help peo­ple own their own home. The only hope is that spec­u­la­tors should be weeded out at the early stage to en­sure that those schemes are for dis­en­fran­chised home buy­ers to fi­nally get their dream come true.

Surely there will be more to come in terms of how the peo­ple will be pri­ori­tised over busi­nesses but not at the ex­pense of busi­nesses hav­ing to in­cur a loss. The new peo­ple-cen­tric di­rec­tion of the gov­ern­ment is re­fresh­ing given how many, es­pe­cially the youth, the B40 and the mid­dle class, have felt side­lined over the years,

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