Sectors voice need for ‘survival’ budget

PETALING JAYA: With less than two weeks to go before the tabling of Budget 2022, several sectors have submitted their ‘wish list’ for economic survivability during the endemic phase.

Malaysia Tourism Council (MTC) president Uzaidi Udanis said the budget must be a ‘survival’ budget as the nation moves into the endemic phase of the pandemic after almost 20 months under a movement control order.

“Next year is a crucial year for the industry which is slowly recovering.

“Budget 2022 must be a survival budget to ensure those who are recovering will survive next year,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Uzaidi, who also heads the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (Mita), said the budget must include fiscal policies and incentives to maintain the recovery momentum.

“The government should avoid imposing more taxes and regulations to make it easier for businesses to recover and to survive,” he said.

Uzaidi, who met with Finance Ministry officials on three recent occasions, proposed that a four-day work week is promoted to allow for longer weekend breaks.

“The government could consider offering tax exemptions for companies who introduce a four-day work week.

“This will spur domestic tourism and other sectors such as recreation centres, theme parks and retail,” he said.

He added that MTC, which has over 3,000 members, also suggested providing incentives for those in the industry to work from home.

This, he said, would minimise the risk to financial exposure such as rental and overhead costs for those in the sectors.

Malay Chambers of Commerce president Halim Husin said that the chambers had submitted its proposals to the government through a recent public engagement sessions with officials from the Finance Ministry.

He said the chambers also wants a budget that promotes economic growth with “breathing space”.

He noted that the chambers was against the tabling of the proposed Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) this year, which may be done during the coming Dewan Rakyat meeting that starts on Oct 25.

“The chamber agrees with actions to increase transparency, good governance and accountability, but it does not agree with the FRA which is aimed at stifling fiscal space towards austerity,” he said when contacted.

On Oct 5, Deputy Finance Minister I Mohd Shahar Abdullah informed the Dewan Rakyat that the government intended to table the FRA.

The FRA is part of the government’s post-crisis fiscal consolidation measures to rationalise spending efficiency through the public expenditure review.

Halim, who also sits in the National Economic Action Council chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, said the government should focus on helping the nation recover in 2022.

Among the chambers’ proposal is providing RM1,000, beginning next month, as an additional cost of living aid for those who are incapable of work due to long Covid-19 sickness.

Also suggested is a RM50 monthly or RM300 a year, e-wallet scheme for school students whose parents earn less than RM3,000.

“This will enable them to buy face masks and vitamins through school cooperatives or bookshops,” Halim added.

Also suggested was introducing a progressive tax system, he said, to give more breathing space to the B40 and M40 groups.

He added high-income earners in the top 10% bracket, who are earning more than RM1mil a year, could be taxed between 40% and 50%.

As for small medium enterprises (SMEs), Halim said the chambers was against the lowering of corporate taxes, but should instead look at lowering taxes for SMEs to 15% for companies below RM2.5mil.

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