KUALA LUMPUR – Oct 22, 2015: It appears that the biggest hope among Malaysians for the country’s 2016 Budget was for it to give more focus on lowering their cost of living.
Over 10,000 of the 28,000 Malaysians who chipped in their ideas on what should be included in the budget via an official official survey wanted measures to lower cost of living be given the utmost priority.
The survey was conducted by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) at the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s official blog, najibrazak.com throughout last month.
In the survey, members of the public shared their general views based on 15 categories related to the budget as well as choosing either to like or dislike the suggestions posted by other participants.
Among the most agreed ideas in the cost of living category was the call for government to render processed food such as sardines, milk and flour to be exempted from the goods and services tax (GST).
Khaw Seek Chuan proposed for the government to reduce the current GST rate of 6 per cent to 3 per cent and to increase the amount of Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M).
However, there were also significant amount of views voiced by those participating in the budget’s survey which insisted for the government to stop giving out the government’s financial aid policy done via cash-hand-out.
Roy Ruzaini opined that such financial aid was not helpful as the “meagre RM500” would not cushions the rising cost of living.
“Supposedly, the government should have used the funds allocated in BR1M and turn it into oil subsidy.
“That way, it is easier for the government to control unjust and unnecessary price hike thus ensuring a relatively stable and affordable cost of living in the long run,” he wrote in the web site’s survey page.
Vincent Teoh, shared similar sentiment with Roy on the need for the government to stop giving cash hand-outs and instead provide better food subsidies.
“Please provide more subsidies for food products instead of giving money away for free. The government must be like a parent to teach its children (citizens) to fish.
“If you keep providing free fish for them, they will never learn to fish on their own.
“Instead, give more free courses on how to improve one’s cost of living and expenses.
“Educate the people! Do not make them rely on free hand-outs,” he wrote.
Aside from GST and BR1M related ideas, there were also those who think that it was timely for the government to increase the basic salary in the public and private sectors.
Fariq Lyana wrote that workers should be offeredc a minimum salary of RM 2,000 as it can help the people to cope with the current cost of living.
Another participants in the survey Ahmad Salwadi Salleh had even called for the government to introduce a RM2,500 – RM3,000 minimum wage policy.
“Aside from that, the government should also decrease the intake of foreign workers so that unemployment rate can be reduced,” he wrote.
The tabling of the budget tomorrow had also become a hot topic of discussion in the blogosphere.
However, instead of voicing their expectations of the budget, the bloggers were more interested in discussing about the possibility of it not being able to be approved by parliament due to it’s tabling being used as a mean to topple Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Speculations have been rife that some Barisan Nasional lawmakers may join the opposition MPs in objecting against the budget.
Anonymous blogger who blogs at ‘Analysis Dr Mim’ criticised the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) chairman Maria Chin Abdullah following her demand for the MPs to vote against the budget so that Najib can be toppled.
“Is this illegal organisation the boss of DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Pas president Datuk Seri Haji Abdul Hadi Awang?
“We’ll just have to wait and see whether Guan Eng and all of DAP MPs will indeed bow down to Bersih’s demands,” the blogger wrote.
Prominent journalist blogger Datuk Ahirudin Attan in his latest blog posting considered the intention of blocking the budget as being malicious, and “even dangerous.”
“It is tantamount to not just economic sabotage but it will seriously undermine the well-being of the people these politicians are supposed to represent,” he wrote.
Yesterday, Najib reportedly admitted that the government has had to make some “hard decisions”, such as the removal of fuel subsidies and introduction of the GST, to enable the country to achieve a balanced budget.
Both, he said were among the toughest measures the government had undertaken to promote competitiveness and increase the tax base significantly.
“Not everyone is happy with these moves. But the measures are necessary for us to continue our transformation.
“As per our targets, we are confident of reaching a balanced budget, or as close to that as possible, by 2020,” he said in his speech at the Global Transformation Forum in Kuala Lumpur.