The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) advocates a more inclusive approach to Malaysia’s policy development. The traditional reliance on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) may no longer suffice. Fomca suggests policy planning should pivot towards addressing the tangible needs and concerns of Malaysians.
Fomca’s secretary-general, Datuk Paul Selva Raj, advocates for the introduction of a Consumer Well-being Index that gauges Malaysians’ satisfaction levels with everyday life.
Selva Raj highlights the disconnect between the declarations of policy makers and the reality faced by ordinary consumers. The GDP and CPI do not necessarily reflect the actual living conditions of citizens. For instance, a housewife might find market prices for essential goods have doubled, rendering a low CPI meaningless.
The proposed Consumer Well-being Index would use three key metrics: Subjective well-being, economic security, and trust in government. Subjective well-being focuses on issues impacting the people’s lives, such as cost of food, housing, and healthcare, and their outlook towards the future. The second metric, economic security, gauges how vulnerable consumers feel to their income being affected by external events. The final metric assesses public trust in the government and institutions that directly impact consumers’ well-being.
Real-life experiences will dictate the quality of well-being. Voters are concerned about matters such as fair income employment, job security, affordable living, and access to essential services like healthcare, education, and water supply.
In a World Bank study conducted in Malaysia from 2012-2018, it was noted that both rural and urban households experienced increasing difficulties. This highlights the necessity for an alternate metric that reflects the people’s realities better than GDP or CPI.
As Malaysia progresses, broad measures like GDP and CPI are handy but insufficient. For policy makers to ensure ‘real progress’ for the rakyat, they must comprehend their perceptions and sentiments to formulate and implement effective policies.
This news is based on an article by the Malay Mail.