KUCHING, Nov 2: Many people were expecting the 2019 Budget to be austere, with cuts across the board especially in view of the country’s financial status due to the wastage, corruption and bad governance by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government, opined Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.
“However, due to cost saving and good governance measures that has been taken by the PH government, they announced a high RM316.55 billion budget in comparison to what was described as the ‘mother of all budgets’ announced by the former Prime Minister Najib Tun at RM280.25 billion, although there were lots of off-balance sheet allocations practiced during the previous administration,” Dr Yii said in a statement.
He was commenting on the 2019 budget tabled by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today.
This includes a bigger allocation or an increase of 18.5 per cent from RM242.1 million to RM286.8 million this year to MACC to fight corruption.
“This clearly showed the PH government’s priority in restoring the economy and eradicating the main problem that is affecting the country.”
Another positive output was that a total of 17.9 per cent of total budget will be allocated to development on comparison to 16 per cent under Budget 2018.
With that, Dr Yii said close to 30 per cent will be allocated to Sabah and Sarawak in PH’s focus to balance the development between the different territories in Malaysia.
“The development allocated to Sarawak in this year’s budget also increased from RM4.336 billion in 2018 to RM4.346 billion this year on top of the continuation of the Pan Borneo Highway with continuous rationalisation plans to help reduce the inflated cost.
“The federal government will also concentrate on construction and upgrades of basic infrastructures including roads, bridges, water and electric supply, and health care and educational infrastructures.”
Sabah had a big increase from RM4.133 billion in 2018 to RM5 billion.
As the financial status improves, Dr Yii added that the target of 30 per cent development fund to Sabah and Sarawak will thus naturally increase in quantum for the benefit of the people.
However, he cautioned that there might be a move by the government to introduce a kind of Sugar Tax which will affect sugar drinks like soda and fruit juice.
This would not affect raw sugar, and this move was to encourage healthier lifestyles especially since Malaysia now has the highest rate of diabetes in Asia.
Financial aid for the poor or what was previously known as BR1M also underwent a revision and will be increased for bigger low-income families, to help them with their daily expenses.
“This is to make sure the truly poor fully benefit from the aid and that it will not be abused at the expense of the poor. On top of that, the introduction of program PeKa B40 will also provide free health screening of diseases including mental health in panel private clinics for the B40,” he added.
On top of that, the government will allocate a total of RM150 million to standardise the prices of basic products like food especially between rural and urban areas in Sabah and Sarawak so that people living in rural areas would not have to pay higher prices than their urban counterparts.
The minimum wage will be increased to RM 1,100 nationwide to help the poor and also remove the discriminatory differences between the minimum wage in Sabah and Sarawak and West Malaysia under the previous BN government.
“For tourism, 50 per cent of tourism tax collected in every state including Sarawak will be returned to the State for them to further promote touristic activities in the State.
The Pakatan Harapan Government has cut the allocations to Prime Minister’s Department to more than half from RM15.954 billion in 2018 to RM7.39 billion in this budget. That is a total of RM8.564 billion or 54 per cent reduction,” Dr Yii said.
Education and Healthcare ministries have also received higher allocations, with the former seeing an increase of RM 15.359 billion or 34 per cent increase.
“I strongly welcome this news as this shows the government’s priorities in investing into this important sector especially in our intentions to rebuild our country,” Dr Yii said.
He added that a total of RM12 million was allocated to Chinese Independent Schools nationwide, and was the first time it had a specified allocation in the budget.
There will also be an increase of allocations to the Ministry of Health from RM 25.238 billion in 2018 to RM28.678 billion in 2019.This is an increase of RM3.440 or 7.8 per cent.
Women’s health was given prominence in the allocations with RM20 million allocated for mammograms and HPV vaccinations which is estimated to benefit more than 7,000 women nationwide.
On top of that RM50 million will be allocated for rare diseases and to increase facilities for hemodialysis. — DayakDaily