Chong: Budget 2018 not rakyat-friendly

Chong (centre) at a press conference held at state DAP headquarters here today.

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KUCHING, Oct 28: State DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen says the “goodies” given in the budget are too little to help the common people address the problem of increasing costs of living.

He said every year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak called his budget “mesra rakyat” (people-friendly), yet, the people have continued to suffer from the ever-increasing costs of living.

“The BN (Barisan Nasional) budgets (over the years) are far from “mesra rakyat”. The 2018 Budget is no exception,” said Chong in a press conference held at DAP headquarters here today.

Citing the example of income tax reduction of 2 per cent for those having chargeable income of RM20,001, he said their monthly salary was about RM2,600 per month and their tax saving would only be a meagre RM25 per month.

“That will not help to reduce the daily financial burden of the people,” said Chong who is Bandar Kuching MP.

He said the BN government continued to rely on the practice of ‘tax terrorism’ to sustain its spending, which is by ruthless and oppressive tax collection measures to terrorise the business community and individuals.

“In 2014, the income tax for individuals and companies collected by the government was only RM89.6 billion. In 2017, this went up to RM97.8 billion and the estimate for 2018 is RM104.6 billion.

“This increase in income tax collection is in addition to the imposition of GST (goods and services tax) which increases the government’s tax collection on indirect tax (export and import duties, sales and services tax and Goods and Services Tax) from RM37.4 billion in 2014 to 64.8 billion in 2018.

“In other words, the income tax and indirect tax on the people increased from a total of RM127 billion in year 2014 to RM169.4 billion in year 2018, an increase of RM42.4 billion tax on the people within four years.

“With the current economic situation, such increase of tax can only be achieved by way of ‘tax terrorism’ practice. With annual additional tax of RM20–40 billion taken away from the people, it is no wonder that everyone is hard pressed for money to spend, which ultimately resulted in a very sluggish business environment since the implementation of GST in 2015,” said Chong.

The Kota Sentosa assemblyman further pointed out that Najib did not utter a single word about corruption which Chong opined could be due to the fact that “if one lives in a glass house, don’t throw stone at others”.

“Throughout his two-hour speech, Najib did not mention a word of ‘corruption’ while corruption is the single biggest issue, both nationally and internationally for Malaysia with the 1MDB issues, the RM40 million bust against the political secretary of the Human Resources Minister, the RM1.5 billion raids against the ex-Rural and Regional Development Ministry officers.

“To Najib, it is as if corruption is a non-issue in Malaysia. Even the allocation for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), though increased from last year, but is about the same allocation for year 2016, and a lot less than the allocation for MACC for the year 2015.

“Without serious effort to combat corruption, billions of our people’s money will continue to be pocketed by the corrupted officers and ministers. It will continue to bloat up our national debt and burden our future generation with the repayment of debt,” said Chong.

He also pointed out that despite the Sarawak DUN’s resolution to demand for 20 per cent oil and gas royalty in 2014, the federal government refused to accede to the demand.

“The 2018 budget continues to be a big disappointment for Sarawak in that our oil and gas royalty under BN continues to be a meagre five per cent,” said Chong, adding it was a stark difference compared to the Alternative Budget proposed by Pakatan Harapan which promised to return 20 per cent oil and gas royalties to Sarawak. — DayakDaily