'We are going to feel the pinch', M'sians say on service tax hike

KUALA LUMPUR: Some Malaysians from various walks of life have disclosed that they will tolerate a marginally higher monthly electricity bill in the wake of the 8 per cent service tax for household electricity bills that was announced yesterday.

Freelancer Sherina K, 52, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, the two per cent hike from six per cent to eight per cent was unnecessary for their household of three.

"Accumulatively, we are an average household, and as it is, the bill is quite high. Add the two per cent increase and we will feel the pinch as the cost of living just keeps going up. If we are feeling it, then what about the lower income households?

"What is the solution then? Are the alternative means of electricity such as solar panels going to be cheaper? What are the options for the average and lower income households?" she said.

Sherina also found the timing perplexing, given there is currently a hot spell which will last for a month or two, and most houses will be running their air-conditioners and fans for longer periods of time to cope with the hot and humid conditions.

Aaron, 40, who is self-employed and lives in a condominium in Damansara with his wife and son, revealed that his electricity bill was averaging at RM320 per month.

Even then, he said, they were always cautious with their consumption of electricity and therefore would not consider implementing any cost-saving measures.

"The two per cent increase in service tax for power usage would cost us roughly RM26, and it is something we must pay, so we have no complaints.

"I work from home, so I spend a lot of time on the computer, and our electricity bill is expected and something we can manage. Things are generally getting more expensive across the board, so we just have to find ways to boost our income in order to survive," he said.

Daniel Toh, 42, a salesman who lives in a three-bedroom condominium with his mother in Segambut, shared that he would not be affected by the increase in service tax as his monthly electricity bill was between RM80 to RM100.

"It's just the two of us at home, so we try to avoid using air conditioning and instead use fans and open the windows for greater air circulation. To conserve money, my mother and I sleep in the same room, so we only use one air-conditioning unit at night, which helps us keep our electricity bills low.

"However, I do feel for those with big families and who are not big earners. The two per cent increase can be an added cost they could do without especially under the current economic climate," he said.

Azry Tamzil, 45, a designer who lives in a townhouse in Shah Alam with his wife and three children, said he acknowledged the increase as it was something they would manage as a family.

"Our electricity bill ranges between RM750 to RM830 every month, so yes, it will have a slight impact on our monthly expenditure where we will have to find ways to improve our income as the cost of living is going up.

"At present it is the school holidays and our three children are at home. The weather is very hot and we want our children to be comfortable so the air-conditioning runs for almost the entire day as it is a necessity and not a choice.

"As opposed to increasing taxes at the expense of the plight of the people, I believe the government could potentially discover alternative methods to generate revenue," said Azry.

Yesterday, it was announced that as part of the government's list of tax reforms this year to boost the country's fiscal position, the service tax for household electricity bills will increase to 8 per cent from 6 per cent from March 1.

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