DESPITE the “Malaysian Family” slogan expounded by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to prioritise Malaysian values, unity and well-being, Budget 2022 clearly shows a stark disparity in allocations between the bumiputra and non-bumiputra groups, especially the Indian community.
An analysis of Budget 2022’s allocation for communities shows that RM11.4bil (more than 97%) has been set aside for bumiputras while RM345mil (less than 3%) has been allocated for the non-bumiputra.
A further breakdown of the allocation shows the Indian community being apportioned only RM145mil, which translates to about 1.2% of the total budget.
There is no opposition against the allocation for the bumiputra group; what is being raised is the need for a fair allocation for non-bumiputras to reflect an inclusive and non-discriminatory budget.
Narrowing the issues to those faced by the Indian community, a critical point that needs to be addressed in the budget is how Indians in the lower income group are going to survive, as a prudent government plan to assist the neglected poor or marginalised in the community is missing from the budget.
As for the small allocation, it is obviously a miscalculation because, besides ensuring the socioeconomic development of the community, funds are also needed to provide education assistance, welfare and food aid to the underprivileged and neglected people among them.
An allocation of RM145mil has been specified by the government to be distributed to the Indian Entrepreneurs Development Scheme through Tekun Nasional, the national Entrepreneurial Group Economic Fund.
Although supporting Tekun Nasional is important for the community, the primary concern is the daily livelihood, welfare and education of the deprived sector of the community. Additionally, the budget allocations should also be adequate to carry out effective programmes to provide skills-based training and to upskill Indian youths to ensure that they can secure employment.
The Penang Hindu Association (PHA) humbly appeals to the Federal Government to revisit Budget 2022, and to make the necessary re-calibrations to provide for the needs of the Indian community. Amendments to increase the allocation for the non-bumiputra, in particular the Indian community, need to be made.
PHA humbly suggests that the government raises the proposed 3% to at least 5% of the total budget allocation for non-bumiputras. It is also hoped that a body would be established to oversee the management of the allocations among the Indian community without fear or favour.
PHA believes these suggestions could somewhat help to reduce the possibility of the Indian community in general, and the deprived sector of the community in particular, from falling behind in today’s society.
P. MURUGIAH , President Penang Hindu Association