KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has begun tabling the highly-anticipated Budget 2019 in Parliament.
Bernama reported that he earlier arrived at 3.54pm on Friday (Nov 2), flanked by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
There was a commotion in the Dewan Rakyat when opposition lawmakers jeered and booed Lim during his opening address when he thanked Malaysians for saving the nation from a kleptocratic government.
Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had earlier said everyone was full of hope and waiting for this year’s budget.
“The question is whether the budget is achievable when even their manifesto has not been fulfilled. The people are watching,” he said in a tweet.
While expectations are high, this could turn be one of the toughest budgets with the list of alleged misappropriations, dubious spending and a ballooning debt left behind by the Barisan Nasional-led government.
Lim had said recently that the upcoming 2019 Budget would be “difficult” with the government needing to reduce the RM1tril national debt.
This means the new government would have to undertake a herculean task to clean up its balance sheet and at the same time steer the economy out of an impending economic slowdown in the coming years,” Kenanga Investment Bank said in a Research Note.
The 2019 Budget allocation would be based on average crude oil price of US$70 per barrel, but the benchmark Brent crude oil neared US$80 per barrel currently.
The Pakatan Harapan government has, however, said fixing the financial problems would not be done at the expense of the people's well-being.
There have been speculations on possible new taxes like inheritance tax, capital gain tax, or even new taxes on soda and e-commerce.
However, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah said the new taxes would not burden the people, and that their revenue would be used for the people, as well as to reduce the burden of repaying the national debt.
The government's revenue for 2018 will decline to RM21bil following the reinstatement of the Sales and Services Tax on Sept 1, 2018 to replace the GST. The net impact is a RM17bil loss in the government's coffers this year.