Sunday March 18, 2012
Raising living standards for those without income
The Star Says
STUDENTS in higher education will soon enjoy a better quality of life with the launch of discount cards for several forms of expenditure.
Kudos to the Higher Education and Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministries for developing this discount scheme together with Bank Rakyat.
Concern over rising costs has warranted the discount card plan for young adults who have yet to earn an income. An important consideration before the card is launched in June is the scope or selection of goods and services to be covered.
Obviously, these would not include wasteful or unsavoury items for youths. But just as important, the discounts should cover as wide an array as possible of necessary or useful items for students, such as books, meals and public transport.
Similar discount systems have been practised in several other countries for many years, but they have often been uncoordinated. A book discount scheme may not be related to public transport passes, which in turn may be different from a discount card for retail outlets.
The advantage of the Govern-ment's new scheme, in being designed from scratch, is the ability to integrate all the discounts and other entitlements for students within a single card. Let us hope that its implementation will not experience serious glitches.
In the meantime, it would be in everyone's interests if more retailers joined the scheme by offering meaningful discounts to cardholders. The discount system would benefit not only students but also businesses through higher turnovers.
When students find a product or service beyond their means, they tend not to purchase it. But when a worthwhile discount is offered, they make the purchase and thereby add to consumer demand.
The result is that market demand as a whole is stimulated, increasing overall purchases. The nation's economy also benefits.
Likewise, senior citizens should also be entitled to a similar discount scheme. They, too, will add to more business transactions when they would otherwise not have made some purchases.
Retailers may find that they make less profit from some purchases because of the discounts, but overall they would register more sales and therefore make larger aggregate profits.
Young adults and senior citizens, both without full-time incomes, would benefit along with the business community. That would be an engaging win-win-win solution for raising living standards.