Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tighten Your Belt!

Everyone has been talking about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for months and, as the day of implementation looms near, the talk has a touch of panic and near hysteria added to the litany. It’s the same things they’re talking about, as though becoming over familiar with the subject would reduce the impact this new tax is going to impose on us poor people—for it’s the poor and underprivileged who will feel the pinch most. The wealthy won’t have to curb their spending—like the poor folks must.
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The people of Sabah are the poorest people of the country. Imagine how much poorer we’re going to be and how pathetic our purchasing ‘power’.

I would have to choose between buying baby formula and nappies. To reduce power usage I have to forgo sleeping in a cool, air-conditioned room. Instead I must  sleep with my bedroom door and window open—and invite the mosquitoes for a feast. Or I could shut the door and slow-cook myself in the heat.

I’ve long ago stopped buying newspapers and clothes for myself. Now I’ve to seriously consider terminating my Astro subscription. I might even stop buying books and just reread what I have on my shelves.
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Fortunately, I can sew reasonably well so the baby won’t have to walk around in tattered clothes or be forever confined in her 
newborn-baby clothes or forced to wear pants with a hole in the crotch. Finally I’d be able to make good use of the old bed sheets which I’ve been hording for years. With a bit of embellishment such as bows and buttons and embroideries, the poor kid would think her clothes are fit for a real princess. If I make her clothes several sizes too big for her she won’t need new clothes until she’s in her teens!

I’ve already started growing some beans, tomatoes and okra but I would have to plant more to reduce the number of trips to the market. I just need several bags of compost and top soil to improve the vegetable bed so all the digging and watering will not be in vain. With hard work and a bit of luck I might even have gourds and greens to trade for other produce or services—like house cleaning.

I’d most certainly terminate the services of my once-a-week maid and clean the house myself. If I could convince the occupants of the house to pick after themselves, wash their own dishes, flush the toilet after use and wash their hands instead of using the curtains to scrape their dungot off their fingers, I’d be able to cope with the weekly sweeping and mopping. If only I could reduce the cooking and laundry to two or three times a week! But with a baby that is quite impossible.

I foresee more moving around for me—in the house and in the yard—and coupled with eating less, I’ll be slim in no time. No more chocolates or cakes. No more ice-creams or takeaways. And I won’t need new clothes because I’d be wearing the garments I had worn 20, 30 years ago.

Some friends are wringing their hands and lamenting that the GST will have a huge negative impact on their lifestyles. Some friends even pray and hope that this GST is an elaborate April Fools’ joke. I say, stop smoking, eat at home, relax and take a deep breath.

Then tighten that belt.

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