Various measures are to be taken under Budget 2015 to help the people cope with the rising cost of living.

“These include increasing food production levels, as well as curbing profiteering by the middlemen and speculative activities,” said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“The Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Ministry will continue to step up enforcement and monitor prices more closely.

“In the long run, we are also looking into ways of how the rakyat can be empowered through better education and continuous upskilling to increase productivity and to earn higher wages,” Najib added in his opening remarks at the Budget 2015 consultation session yesterday.

Budget 2015 is scheduled to be tabled in Parliament on Oct 10.

The theme for the consultation was “Accelerating Growth, Ensuring Fiscal Sustainability and Prospering the Rakyat”.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the Government would look at how the economy could be more inclusive and equitable.

“It is imperative that our policies and subsequently our growth do not marginalise any group,” he added.

He said Budget 2015 was crucial, as it was the final budget under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

It will provide allocations for the remaining programmes and projects under the plan.

“It will also help to ensure a smooth transition to the 11th Malaysia Plan, which, in turn, will provide the final push in transforming the country into an advanced and high-income nation by 2020,” he added.

While the Government would increase efforts to ensure that the economy continued to grow, it was also committed to seeing that the agenda for fiscal reforms did not get side-tracked, Najib said.

“It will continue to be expansionary, but not at the expense of our deficit. We expect to reduce the fiscal deficit to 3.5% this year and achieve a balanced budget by 2020,” he added.

The Fiscal Policy Committee, set up in June last year, has extensively deliberated on several fiscal measures, which include the implementation of the goods and services tax and subsidy rationalisation.

Najib also emphasised the importance of driving a balance between company profits and wages, saying that wages as a percentage of gross domestic product stood at 32.9% in Malaysia, which was considerably lower than the levels of developed nations at an average of 40%.