RESTORING trust in the government, promoting an entrepreneurial state, and prospering the people are the three main thrusts of the inaugural budget of the Pakatan Harapan administration.
The six-month-old administration says these themes are in consonance with the Mid-Term Review of the 11th Malaysia Plan, and pave the way towards fulfilling the aspiration for a new Malaysia.
Despite domestic and external challenges, it says, the government will leverage strong fundamentals of the economy to prosper and return the country to its glory days within the first three years of its administration.
First, efforts will be intensified to overcome the trust deficit in the government among the people – professionals, private and public. The immediate focus will be on addressing all policies and structural issues that have hindered the nation from progressing further.
On that note, Budget 2019 will introduce several measures to strengthen governance, enhance revenue base, improve fiscal management and government procurement as well as realign the roles of government-linked companies. In addition, ministries and agencies will be streamlined to avoid duplication of roles and functions.
Essentially, the principles of competency, accountability and transparency – or CAT – will be adopted across all levels of the government.
In promoting an entrepreneurial state, the Malaysia Incorporated policy will be re-introduced to stimulate and encourage private sector participation in economic activities and overall development.
Among other things, the policy is expected to jump-start a new version of the public-private partnership (PPP) in promoting investment and entrepreneurship in the country. In this aspect, the land swap approach under PPP will be revised whereby it will be decoupled from land development.
The government will reduce its involvement in business and allow the private sector to drive economic growth. It is committed to ensuring effective implementation of the open tender process, public investment and the renegotiation of mega-infrastructure projects.
Meanwhile, efforts will be intensified to widen Malaysia’s export markets. For this, Malaysia’s economy will be premised along the highest level of technology and efficiency.
The government envisages that economic growth in the future will be driven by high-tech sectors such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and Big Data analytics, underlining the potential of the digital economy in ensuring Malaysia’s transition to a developed and inclusive nation.
As for improving the wellbeing of Malaysians, the budget will adopt a two-pronged approach to ease the burden of the people and enhance their income opportunities.
To address the rising cost of living, the focus will be on raising the disposable income of the people, especially the Bottom-40 (B40) and Middle-40 (M40) households. In this regard, cost-of-living aid will be continued under Budget 2019 with a more targeted approach, while other efforts to increase income such as cross-skilling, reskilling, upskilling and expert-skilling the existing workforce will be implemented.
On top of that, the government will also focus on improving the healthcare delivery system as well as enhancing the quality of education in the country to benefit the people.
As for affordable housing, the government will continue to expand the People’s Housing Programme, People’s Housing Rent-to-Own Programme and Integrated People’s Housing Programme. The initiative will provide opportunities for citizens, especially the B40 households to own or rent a house.
At the same time, the budget will encourage financial institutions to allocate more loans to facilitate house-ownership as well as introduce new programmes to meet the rising demand for affordable housing.
Overall, the measures in the budget will place the nation on a stronger footing towards achieving the objectives of greater liberty, justice, harmony, peace and prosperity in a new Malaysia.
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