Budget 2009 lacks punch, says Fong


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 06 Sep 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn has criticised Budget 2009, saying it lacked punch and failed to create a conducive environment for investors.

Dr Fong, the former Human Resource Minister, said the Budget that was unveiled last week only managed to scrape the margin to help people cope with the numerous price increases.

“It should have been bolder. A 1% reduction in income tax and RM2,400 tax relief for travel allowance is hardly anything.”

Dr Fong, however, said that efforts had been made to help the disabled and to help the poor by expanding the group eligible for welfare allowances.

“However, I think the government should set up some form of an unemployment insurance to help those who have lost their jobs.”

He added that statements made by the Deputy Prime Minister during the Ninth Malaysia Plan mid-term review to ease Foreign Investment Committee rules were also not followed up on in the Budget.

“Hindrances such as ceiling prices, quotas and subsidies have to be looked at to attract investors, help our construction industry and improve our competitiveness.”

Dr Fong, an economist by training, said small and medium enterprises ought to be helped more as well and suggested that incubators be set up to help them.

“They need help to identify what sort of computer technology would benefit them best. This sort of thing is practised in Taiwan and South Korea.”

Dr Fong also hit out at the windfall tax on plantation companies saying the baseline was far too low at RM2,000 per tonne.

“Their break-even point now is about RM1,300 per tonne. Either remove or raise the baseline. We have to be fair,” he said while urging plantation companies to pay their workers more.

Dr Fong also commented on public transportation, saying that it was the buses that needed the most help and that the lack of inter-connectivity was a major issue.

“I also believe that the government should reduce all toll charges. I’m sure the government can renegotiate some of the contracts because the traffic volume now is far higher than the projections that were made then.”

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