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Friday, October 25, 2013

Budget 2014: Public welfare to be addressed

Published: Friday October 25, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Friday October 25, 2013 MYT 7:57:10 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: Money might not get splashed around as much as before with Budget 2014 expected to adhere to fiscal discipline even as it addresses the welfare of the people.

The budget that Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will table in the Dewan Rakyat today is expected to cut down on subsidies.

This, according to budget watchers, is acceptable but must be made less painful for the people.

A survey on what Malaysians look for in Budget 2014 indicates a lot of “handouts fatigue” – and not just among the high-income earners. So, the Government is expected to ensure that only the deserving get BR1M and to review handouts and populist policies that drain resources.

Spending promises look set to be kept, but the Government is expected to make good on its pledges over the tenure of its mandate rather than in a year.

Najib holding up ‘top secret documents’ while checking on the preparations for Budget 2014 at the Finance Ministry. — Bernama

The Government is also expected to respond to the anger of taxpayers over the mismanagement and waste detailed in the Auditor-General’s Report by outlining measures to bring the culprits to book.

The budget is certain to make an announcement on GST, but the Goods and Services Tax is expected to be implemented only in 2015. The interest of the public at large on the tax structure revolves around how it will affect cost of living, the chief concern of Malaysians.

The budget is likely to look at controlling house prices, with the clamour for affordable homes for the poor and the middle class.

The middle class, who have complained about being neglected in past budgets, are expected to get “something” this time round.

The working class, meanwhile, want childcare to be made more freely available and at reasonable prices.

Tourism will get some goodies with 2014 being Visit Malaysia Year and many asking for tax rebates for Malaysians who take local holidays.

Businesses are sure to get incentives for innovation and investment amid calls for the Government to reward budding entrepreneurs who create jobs for locals.

On development, many are asking the Government to push ahead only with big ticket projects that will bring jobs and boost the economy.

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