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Friday, November 1, 2013

`Income of country, rakyat to improve'

Publication: NST
Date of publication: Oct 26, 2013
Section heading: Business Times
Page number: 006
Byline / Author: By Marina Emmanuel

KUALA LUMPUR: THE measures announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday for the 2014 Budget has been described as inclusive, rakyat-friendly and one that is also fiscally-responsible, with the end-game of achieving a balanced budget by 2020.

Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) chief executive Datuk Redza Rafiq commended the government for taking steps to ensure the need to cut public debt and reduce budget deficit quickly.

"This will not only improve the income of the country and the rakyat, but also narrow the disparity between the rich and those in the lower-income group," he said.

"As expected," he said, "the proposed goods and services tax (GST) and subsidy-rationalisation were announced together with a reduction in tax rates. This will go a long way towards enhancing our level of competitiveness, especially in the light of competitive offerings in neighbouring countries."

For NCIA - which serves as an implementation agency overseeing the development of the four northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak - Redza said 2014 Budget will see more of the agency's initiatives realise their full potential.

"For example, the growth that Taiping is experiencing at the moment will be further augmented via the development of the 316km Banting-Taiping highway.

"Our agriculture initiatives will be further enhanced via new development initiatives in commercial-scale farming; and the formation of the Food and Agriculture Council for Exports," he said, noting that the recent spike in private sector participation in the tourism sector in the Northern Corridor Economic Region - which straddles the four states - will see continued momentum via the RM2 billion special fund for tourism infrastructure.

"Our recent endeavours in bioeconomy will also see further progress, due to the announcement of new incentives for research and development to be implemented via our partners Biotechcorp.

"Our efforts to carve out sustainable opportunities for local entrepreneurs will be equipped with further outreach capabilities via entrepreneur development initiatives such as 1MET, MaGIC, the mechanisation and automation fund and the new entrepreneur support financing facilities to be offered via SME Bank," he said.

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