Budget for 1Malaysia
By Shahriman Johari
KUALA LUMPUR: The 2010 Budget has sent a message that is loud and clear for all: Malaysia is serious about transforming its economy for the second time since independence and this will require hard work and sacrifices.
“We now have to shift to a new economic model based on innovation, creativity and high value-added activities,” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also finance minister, said in his first Budget speech in Parliament yesterday.
The government plans to spend about RM192 billion, about a tenth less than 2009, but it will still cut the deficit to 5.6 per cent of the economy, reflecting its responsibility of keeping the country’s finances in good shape.
Ministry of Finance and the possible introduction of a goods and services tax (GST) in the future.
The global recession has exposed Malaysia as being too reliant on exports and weaker demand for our products means the economy is likely to shrink by three per cent this year.
But the economy is slated to rebound and grow by two to three per cent next year as the global economy recovers. The 2010 Budget lays the foundation for what Malaysia needs to grow its economy further.
There are measures to improve niche areas where the country has an edge over global rivals like tourism and Islamic finance and a plan to fix our schools and produce skilled workers of the future.
One of them involves rewarding headmasters with money and other incentives if they meet their performance targets.
Another highlight is the promise to have a Whistleblower Act to curb corruption where informers of misdeeds will be protected from prosecution.
The government also continued to show that it cares for all with a retirement scheme for the self employed, called the 1Malaysia Retirement Scheme.
At present, the Employees Provident Fund manages old-age contributions from workers in the private sector, leaving people like taxi drivers, hawkers and fishermen to fend for themselves.
But under the new scheme, the government will also contribute a maximum of RM60 a year, on top of the dividends as the fund will be managed by the EPF.