PETALING JAYA: Budget 2019 has been given the thumbs up by business organisations for having taken into account the country’s financial circumstances.
Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) executive director Jason Lee Heng Guie said the Budget was supportive of business, growth and private investment.
“The government managed to pull off a responsible and reasonably well-balanced budget under difficult circumstances and fiscal constraints.
“It brought together welcome measures and initiatives, as well as reform elements that reflect a more accountable way that the Finance Ministry is managing the fiscal budget, while operating as an effective spending and taxing body.
“It is also an inclusive budget in terms of strengthening the social safety net for vulnerable groups, especially the underprivileged and B40 groups,” he said when contacted yesterday.
SERC is an independent and non-profit think-tank tasked with carrying out in-depth research and analysis on economic, business and social issues.
Bina Puri Holdings Bhd group executive director Datuk Matthew Tee said development projects that had already started should be allowed to go on, as commitments and progress of projects should not be hindered at the expense of the cost-cutting exercise.
“Cash flow is paramount to the lifeline of any contractor and the industry’s value chain. Payments should be on a timely basis as before the Budget, many government agencies were not paying their dues on time,” he said.
On the government’s intention to carry out a cost-rationalisation study before the Pan Borneo Highway project could proceed, Tee said that despite some initial delays, the project has continued to progress in Sarawak though it has yet to take off in Sabah.
On the government’s decision to continue with the construction of the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3) and Mass Rapid Transit Line 2 (MRT2), Tee said such a move was good for the construction industry as a lot of funds were used for initial investments to buy machinery and hire workers.
Calling the Budget “friendlier than expected and well thought out with not too many surprises”, Tee said the reduction of levy for foreign workers who had served for 10 years or more from RM10,000 to RM3,500 for the agriculture and plantation sectors should be extended to the construction sector too.
Malaysian Retail Chain Association president Datuk Seri Garry Chua described the minimum wage increase to RM1,100 as a “gradual and positive increase” for the job market.
“But any salary increase must be in line with productivity instead of just to please the workers or unions.
“A gradual increase is acceptable compared to an increment to RM1,500 straight away, as it will not have too much impact on business costs,” he said.
Chua said there should have been a bigger budget for the tourism sector to enable aggressive promotions.
“Even CNN recognised Malaysia as one of the world’s top four shopping destinations several years back.
“It is high time that we attract the big spenders to come shop in Malaysia,” he said, adding that government should recognise shopping malls as tourist attractions too.