Malaysians are spending 31.2% of their disposable income on food and food away from home, according to Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani
He added that 23.9% is spent on petrol, housing and utilities, while an additional 14.6% is spent on transport.
He also pointed out that cars, handphones, computers and Internet access have also become a necessity due to the change in lifestyle.
Johari revealed this in his opening remarks at the 2017 Budget Focus Group Meeting: "Cost of Living" yesterday, 1 August.
Johari has acknowledged that there are certain classes in the society that are struggling with the rising cost of living
"With the increase in the general price level, it is argued that the B40s and M40s are finding it difficult to sustain their standard of living," he added.
According to Economic Report 2015/2016, the B40 (bottom 40% household income) group comprises households with a monthly income of up to RM3,855, while those in the M40 group (middle 40% household income group) earn between RM3,860 and RM8,319.
Johari said the first focus group meeting yesterday summarised six items to be further examined, including cost escalation of food, education and transportation, as well as other necessity items like handphones and the internet, and the ability to get finance from the institutions to buy houses.
"We will look into all these in detail and see how we can think about coming up with the formula (that we need) to have," he noted.
The focus group discussion, that is in preparation for the federal budget next year, identified two key aspects that need to be examined closely to address the rising cost of living
Johari reportedly said the two components involve prices of essential goods and services as well as income.
"Being people-centric, the government is committed to addressing this issue in a holistic manner to enhance the well-being of the rakyat," he was quoted as saying by NST Online, yesterday, 1 August.
The Titiwangsa MP also said that the government has undertaken several initiatives in the recent years to enhance the well-being of the rakyat
He cited the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) cash assistance, schooling assistance, book vouchers, housing assistance and subsidies on essential items, as some of the measures undertaken by the government to help ease the financial burden of the rakyat.
In addition, low-income families have continued to receive support through various welfare programmes, while the middle-income group have benefitted from a reduced income tax regime and higher tax reliefs.
It was reported that the Finance Ministry had organised its first focus meeting on the cost of living by engaging with various stakeholders including the private sector, non-governmental organisations and government agencies.
The Finance Ministry will continue to organise a series of focus group meetings ahead of the 2017 Budget, which is scheduled to be tabled on Oct 21, 2016.