Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What Next?

For the past 2 years I have been trying minimise the electricity usage in this house. Living alone helps as the only things that are constantly used are the ceiling fan and this laptop I'm using now. At night, around midnight, I switch off the refrigerator, switching them on again in the morning. Occasionally, when it gets too hot, I would switch on the air-conditioner but only for short durations, just enough to keep the heat down. Soon, what began with a 'green' thought, proved fruitful in dollars, and sense

On average, the  electricity bills come to about RM70 per month. But since 3 months or so, it has dropped to half, fluctuating between RM30 and RM40. One would think that would be a normal rate for a single person to pay. True. But I am holding fort in a double-storey terrace house. And I was looking forward for the latest bill to arrive.

With the usage at 169kwh, the new bill reads RM39.40. But that is not all. There is an additional RM14.22, for the GST charge, bringing the total to RM53.62. A small sum to many, but it pissed me off in many ways.

In a news portal yesterday, a minister asked the public to use electricity wisely and those using below 300kwh will not have GST charged against their usage. I'm with him on the first suggestion but that is about all. As for the inclusion of the GST in my bill, I'll have to take it up with TNB.

On the average, a double-storey house would have about 4 to 5 occupants. If my current usage is used a gauge, then that would roughly mean a usage of more than 600kwh, double the figure for non-GST inclusion! I would hate to think the amount a family now has to pay.  Before I go on, you do have to excuse me for being a layman.

Before April 1, the government said GST will help bring the price of goods down. However, when I saw a Public Message Service(PMS) on RTM2, it had me confused. In the PMS, a potential house-buyer was having a conversation with a blonde, presumably a sales representative of the developer. The dialogue goes something like the below:

Blonde: Oh, we might be raising the price in a couple of months.

Buyer: Is it due to the GST?

Blonde: No! House sales and rentals are not subjected to the GST. However, the building materials are and as such blah blah blah.

So, what does that mean to people like me? If I were about to buy a house and suddenly found out that the unit I wanted to purchase has had its price increased to a value no longer attractive to me, I would surely fume, at the very least. Because to me, the bottom line is the developer increased his selling price as there is now extra charges on the materials use for construction due to the introduction of GST. The gist here is, I feel like I am being lied to.

Earlier today, I was at a new diner nearby. Having been there regular enough, the owner and staff are more like friends now, and to this new friend they opened up on how GST is eating into their profits. Just prior to April 1, prices of certain items which is not listed under GST, had been increased, they complaint. I cannot vouch for their complaint simply because eating a heavy meal once a day, I no longer buy sundry items, opting for eateries and diners. But even that may soon change.

En-route to a hospital in Sungai Buloh, I stopped for a meal at the Jejantas on the PLUS highway. Even while I was trying to enjoy my lunch, an operator there was being shown how to use the new cash register which has GST price included. And true enough, the bill I paid has GST included in the receipt. I imagine soon, most if not all the diners and eateries will have to follow suit. So pray tell, how does the GST work to help prices go down?

A news portal reported a minister saying that he has the word of 30 companies who pledged to absorb the GST. I wonder who these companies are. Are they importers? Manufacturers or producers? Wholesalers? Distributors? Are their pledge true, in the first place? Will they honour it? Or would it be, as some quarters informed, the pledge of so many companies wanting to support the KL Commonwealth Games and in the end little was heard from? Better still, as a layman I ask: Do you mean to say if these companies did not pledge to absorb the GST, the prices of their goods would increase? Wasn't it you who said prices would go down?

Back to TNB. Now, that the GST is included in their billings, would not all businesses too have to increase their charges bearing in mind that they are there to do business, which in other words means seeking profit (and not profiteering as accused by a someone or two)? So once when all businesses have raised their prices, what next is left in store for a layman like me?