Sunday September 23, 2012
Bracing for Budget 2013 as living costs continue to bite
The Star Says
ANOTHER annual Budget will soon be upon us, and Malaysians have a few more days to brace themselves for what it will bring on Friday.
The tabling of the annual Budget in Parliament may be a regular affair but it is never predictable.
Malaysians cannot be blasé about it or otherwise take it for granted, because each year’s Budget brings new surprises both pleasant and otherwise.
For many people, the main priorities for the coming year seem to be housing and transportation, usually the biggest expenditure items. How will these sectors fare in Budget 2013?
Housing needs to be more affordable, not just for low-cost home buyers but also for the middle class. Costs have a way of getting out of hand without regulation, particularly in the urban areas.
Talk of housing price stabilisation and subsidies is in the air. A home ownership scheme supported by strategic subsidies could greatly help to promote first-time home purchases by younger urbanites.
Private transport costs remain prohibitive for many, in terms of both initial purchases and daily maintenance.
The lack of a comprehensive and efficient public transport system weighs on the need for private transport.
Train services help to ease congestion in crowded conurbations where many live and work, within a limited span of coverage, but buses are still said to be the key mode of transport between points A and B.
More needs to be done to improve the quality and frequency of bus services while retaining their affordability.
At root is the element of value for money in our transportation networks. This has a direct bearing on the cost of living and, in turn, the quality of life for Malaysians.
A developing society is one where constant upgrading of the quality of life is a given. How that is done within a nation’s means, and to the satisfaction of its citizens, is the duty of the Government and the fine art of governance.
The purpose of a national Budget is to identify the most pressing needs of the citizenry, place them in order of popular priorities and develop the means to meet those needs.
As the Government unveils a new Budget each year, the people come to judge its provisions and thereby also the conduct and capacity of the Government itself.