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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Groups say 'yes' to Budget

Publication: NST
Date of publication: Oct 28, 2013
Section heading: Streets
Page number: 002
Byline / Author: By Phuah Ken Lin; John Tiong

GEORGE TOWN: Residents gave positive reactions to the 2014 Budget, labelling it as people-friendly with a string of goodies which benefit all quarters.

The majority of men in the streets here are in support of the balanced budget and shared their views with the Streets.

They pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of the budget as well as the need to fine tune it.

Jalan Kedah Flats resident BH Lau, 65, lauded the Goods and Services Tax (GST), highlighting that it would help the government broaden its revenue base to give more relief to the people.

Lau, a retiree, said the GST had been implemented in most Asean countries and the people had no major complaints about their tax regime.

"GST is already a tried-and-tested system and Malaysia should have opted for GST much earlier to be on par economically with our neighbouring countries, especially Singapore.

"To me, the problem of higher cost of living does not arise as most low to medium average income earners in the country have already been exempted from the current personal tax structure," he said at the flats foyer yesterday.

Lau said misconceptions about the GST had created unwarranted negative perception.

Elsewhere at the Taman Manggis People's Housing Project, resident association chairman Muksin Talib praised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for pledging to hand out more 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) and continue the 1Malaysia Maintenance Fund.

Muksin urged the Barisan Nasional government to tackle rising living costs which had reduced the people's purchasing power.

"There is a need to maintain the various subsidies for price controlled items to avoid manipulation by unscrupulous traders at the expense of consumers.

"The subsidy is vital to maintain the retail prices of consumer goods," he said.

Another resident Fatimah Ibrahim, 65, thanked the government for giving out continuous relief to the needy.

She urged the government to narrow the pension scheme gap of retired civil servants.

"The government should look into the possibility of adjusting various pension schemes to minimise their differences," Fatimah said.

The housewife lamented that she had been struggling to make ends meet daily with her meagre monthly pension from the Medical Board.

In Alor Star, residents are urging the government to improve security in public places.

Residents' Associations of Taman Bahagia, Taman Setar, Taman Bahagia Phasa Tiga and Taman Desa chairman Chow She Teik said it would be beneficial to the community for the government to introduce a security system whereby when a person was attacked or had a heart attack, he could press a device that he always carries with him to alert the nearest security entity such as Rela, the police station or a central security unit who would know the exact location to dispatch help to.

"This has been proven to be very effective in improving public safety and security, especially when a person is under threat," said Chow.

He also lauded the continuation of the 1Malaysia Maintenance Fund (RM100 million), the setting up of Jawatankuasa perwakilan penduduk (JPP) at 24 zones within municipalities nationwide (RM63 million), an additional 496 CCTVs in 25 local councils jurisdiction (RM20 million) and the upgrading of police stations, several district headquarters and quarters proposed in the latest budget.

Chow said the success of these efforts would depend on how well they were carried out and the response of the public.

"It would be good if the public could have a hotline to complain about inefficiency when they face weaknesses in implementation. This is the only way to curb inefficiency in the long run," said Chow.

He hoped that some of the maintenance funds could be used to improve lighting in the residential areas he represented.

"Nowadays, people, especially the elderly, wake up early in the morning to exercise in the public places such as a garden.

"These lighting would be very useful for these senior citizen groups," said Chow.

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