Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak will be tabling the 2018 Budget later this month on Friday, 27 October 2017. There has been much speculation about what will be put forward but let’s take a look at some of the more common requests from the rakyat.
How do we keep up with the rising cost of living?
It is no surprise by now that this is the No. 1 concern off the top of almost every single Malaysian. The rising cost of living is not sustainable and what measures will the government put forward to help us keep up?
Yes, we want to see consumer confidence and spending increase to support GDP growth, but with so many struggling to make ends meet, is a high-income nation an achievable goal? This was also one of the most popular topics under the 14 categories on the 2018 Budget microsite.
Many of us will be plugged to the 2018 Budget address to see how this issue will be tackled.
Continued support for the B40 segment
A nationwide study conducted by KAJIDATA reveals that respondents from the B40 segment (earning below RM3,000) want the government to continue looking into their struggles. At least 69% of the respondents say the BR1M cash aid scheme in 2017 has been helpful and has achieved its objectives in serving the B40 segment needs.
Many are hoping for higher BR1M payouts and considering that this is the last Budget address before the next general elections, we may expect to see a heavier focus on socio-economic issues.
AllianceDBS Research chief economist Manokaran Mottain said the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) would likely continue with a higher allocation of RM1,300 per household for those in the RM3,900 and below salary bracket.
It will be interesting to see what is in store for the B40 segment.
Affordable housing is still high on the list of priorities
Malaysians still want to see effective measures taken towards providing more affordable housing. Referring to the KAJIDATA survey, 84.9% of the respondents want to see this being addressed as they feel the housing provisions provided under the 2017 Budget were inadequate.
This is further supported by many economists echoing the same tune, as this is a major complaint among urban residents.
Maybank Investment Bank Bhd (Maybank IB) has said that the setting up of a single or central authority to oversee the affordable housing market could be implemented. This would help to coordinate public and private-sector housing programmes and projects while ensuring a closer match between supply and demand of property developments.
With affordable housing being in the limelight of late, a proposed solution or address on the matter will definitely be highly anticipated.
What’s in store for civil servants?
Our Prime Minister has left many civil servants (and even private sector employees) at the end of their seats as they eagerly await the “good news” he has alluded to. He added that improvements new initiatives were on the cards, but has not given any details.
What could this be? Many civil servants are hoping for a 2-month bonus, an increase of allowances, and an overall increase of their salary.
An increase in the minimum wage
With the rising cost of living, many are hoping to see an increase in the minimum monthly wage as this would certainly help alleviate some of the pressure.
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has requested for it to be raised to RM1,800 nationwide. Currently, there are varying minimum wage levels across the country with it set at RM1,000 for Peninsular Malaysia and RM920 for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.
“In line with the prime minister’s aspiration for Malaysians to be a high-income society, the prime minister announced a minimum wage policy. But this rate today is insufficient for workers, especially Malaysians to have a quality life”, J. Soloman, Secretary-General, MTUC
Lower income tax rates for the middle-income earners
According to UOB Malaysia economist Julia Goh, there could be room to lower personal income tax rates for the middle-income earners on the back of higher oil prices and stronger flow of GST revenues. This would certainly help to ease the burdens that come with the rising cost of living.
Is this a measure the M40 can look forward to? Stay tuned to our live updates of the 2018 Budget.
Other key areas
Malaysians also want to see other areas addressed including:
- Comprehensive healthcare
- Employment opportunities
- Aid for senior citizens above 65
- Aid for single mothers
- Enhance quality of education
- Improve public transportation
- Spend more on development and infrastructure
- Continue to subsidise selected items
While none of this is confirmed, we do hope the government has used the 2018 Budget microsite to listen to the rakyat and deliver measures that will truly serve the needs of the people.
CompareHero.my will be hosting a Live Update of the 2018 Budget on Friday, 27 October 2017. Stay tuned to our blog and social media pages!
Check out the recap of Malaysia's 2017 Budget here: