Building resilience for future crises

Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz. -Bernamapic

KUALA LUMPUR: Next year’s budget focus includes restoring and rebuilding the national resilience to deal with future crises, says Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

Development expenditure (DE) allocation for Budget 2022 will be enhanced to drive socio-economic recovery activities and the national development agenda, he added.

“To this end, Budget 2022 will support the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) strategy to enhance the preparedness of our nation’s hospitals and intensive care unit capacity, which include joint venture efforts with private health care providers,” he said in a statement.

Tengku Zafrul said Budget 2022 would also focus on building national resilience through the concept of inclusivity, especially in terms of reducing the income gap among communities and development mismatches between states.

The government allocated RM322.5bil or 20.6% of the country’s gross domestic product for Budget 2021, higher than the RM297bil earmarked in the previous year.Of the total, 21.4% or RM69bil was set for DE.

Tengku Zafrul noted that for the 12MP, the DE allocation was estimated at RM400bil, which was a significant increase from RM248.5bil for the 11MP.

According to the minister, Budget 2022 will focus on the digitalisation agenda that includes the implementation of 5G, the National Digital Infrastructure Plan (Jendela) as well as increasing digital adoption especially among small and medium enterprises.

He said the 12MP’s focus on sustainable development would also be prioritised in Budget 2022 towards achieving net zero carbon emissions, through policies such as the promoting of electric vehicles.

“Furthermore, with the launch of the Fourth National Industrial Revolution Policy (4IR), digitalisation and technology utilisation will be prioritised to enhance Malaysia’s long-term economic prospects and resilience, in line with the Malaysian Digital Economy Blueprint.

“This is also in line with the government’s structural reforms currently implemented in the medium term, through the implementation of the National Investment Aspirations framework, as well as the government-linked investment company transformation initiative under the Perkukuh Pelaburan Rakyat programme,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul said to ensure there was sufficient fiscal space to fund all development programmes under the 12MP, the government remained committed to fiscal consolidation measures based on the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework, and supported by the Medium-Term Revenue Strategy to broaden the country’s tax base and increase the government’s “affordability” for its debt commitment.

He pointed out there was a need to increase the country’s statutory debt limit to provide additional fiscal space to support the opening up of economic sectors and ensure a sustainable recovery.

“Although this will increase Malaysia’s deficit target, which is estimated to increase to 6.5% to 7.0% of gross domestic product in 2021, the government remains committed to fiscal consolidation measures in the medium term,” he explained.

In addition, the proposed enactment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act would also help improve governance, transparency and accountability in the country’s fiscal management, he added. — Bernama

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