WE WAITED with abated breath as the Minister of Finance began his Budget speech. As the Minister unveils his rationale on the various proposals, his analogy of being a sensible father or head of family in managing finances to meet household needs echoes his sensitivity to the Rakyat in the current challenging times.
As an individual, has the Budget made my day?
To the civil servants – you should rejoice. The Support Group will now enjoy the paid study leave with scholarship (which previously was limited to Management and Professional Group).
Public servants will now have five days of quarantine leave without record when their children are ill and are required to be quarantined. They can now include the purchase of smartphone in the existing computer loan which can be utilised once every three years with a maximum of RM5,000.
They can also enjoy an increase in the limit for motorcycle loan RM5,000 to RM10,000. Housing loans will also be increased to between RM200,000 and RM750,000.
Contract of officers expiring end of this year will be extended for at least one year. A new grade 56 between grade 54 and JUSA C will be introduced for medical and dental specialists and the first group of doctors, dentists and pharmacists will be appointed on contract latest by December 2016.
Indeed, the benefits from the civil service has now reset the bar for the private sector.
The Minister has reiterated in his speech that the Budget is not intended to benefit any particular group but rather it is engineered to be inclusive for the well-being of the Rakyat.
The M40 group (household income ranges between RM3,900 and RM8,300) and B40 (monthly income RM3,900 and below) have different needs and certainly the proposals will cater differently.
To the Rakyat in particular in the B40, you will see allocations for more and better-lighted streets, building and upgrading of village roads and bridges, better maintenance of state roads and building and refurbishment of destitute and dilapidated houses in remote villages and orang asli settlements and more importantly increasing the supply of clean water.
The Government will also finance RM20,000 for new housing units built under MyBeautifaul New Home programme. MySuria Programme will see solar panels installed where participant will receive RM250 per month.
Allocations are also set aside for the Mobileprenuer Programme which will support 3,000 participants using motorcyles: the Agroprenuer programme which will produce 3,000 young entreprenuers and revitalize the eUsahawan and eRezeki progamme under the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation to help 300,000 participants.
Never too small of a token but the Minister has also provided RM200 monthly allowance as Rainy Season Assistance for 3 months from November - January to the registered rubber tappers and small holders. The fishermen will also continue to receive a monthly allowance of RM200 to RM300.
The Minister has not left any “stone” or segment of the Rakyat unturned. The disbursement of BR1M continues with increased quantum. The RM1,000 compensation given to the next of kin of BR1M recipients will also continue under the Bereavement Scheme.
A variety of grants and assistance to the welfare of taxi drivers were introduced and also to encourage their participation as ride-sharing drivers such as UBER drivers.
Effective 2017, a one off increase to the existing RM500 incentive to RM1,000 to Private Retirement Scheme (PRS) contributors with a minimum accumulated investment of RM1,000 during the period of two years will encourage our youth to start saving and think of long term investment.
Students who benefitted from the book vouchers will now receive a student debit card worth RM250 which can be used to purchase books, computer accessories and internet access.
To the working Rakyat who are in the M40, do not be despaired.
Take advantage of the PR1MA and PMR programme for more details where more houses with selling price ranging between RM150,000 and RM300,000 and also for rental will be made available. The Government will also be subsidizing up to RM20,000 per unit.
There is also the new special “set-up” end-financing scheme. More elated news will be the 100% stamp duty exemption (for first home buyers with sale and purchase agreement signed between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2018 on houses of value up to RM300,000).
Thinking of changing your smartphone? A new lifestyle tax relief of RM2,500 per year from Year of Assessment 2017 (which combines the present reliefs for purchasing of reading materials, computers and sports equipment) will now be extended to purchases of printed newspaers, smartphones, internet subscriptions and gymnasium membership fees.
Working mothers will find more time to bond with their children aged up to 2 years where they are encouraged to continue breast feeding with the introduction of a new tax relief of up to RM1,000 once in 2 years from the Year of Assessment 2017 for the purchase of breastfeeding equipment (complete or separate parts).
And for a peace of mind where the children are minded by child care centres and kindergartens registered with the Department of Social Welfare or the Ministry of Education, a new tax relief of up to RM1,000 per year from the Year of Assessment 2017 can be claimed by individual taxpayers (either parent of the children aged up to 6 years).
The Minister ended his speech close to my dinner time. Do I feel that I will have more to spend at the end of the Ministers’ speech? Maybe ….maybe not until I get my bonus at the end of the year. In any case, it is always wise to be prudent.
Ang Weina is a Global Employer Services Partner of Deloitte Malaysia. The views expressed are solely hers.
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