Sunday September 30, 2012
Budget 2013 is not a polls gimmick, but a realistic plan
The Star Says
WITH Budget 2013 here, let the commentary flow. But this being election season, all responses should also be fair and selfless.
Like all programmes which work to benefit the nation, Budget 2013 is detailed and comprehensive. Each item and provision is clearly defined to improve a specified sector while also realistically remaining within Federal fiscal limits.
There is RM1bil to upgrade all categories of schools, with almost another RM40bil to improve education content and teacher training. Further assistance is given for various forms of pre-school development.
Allocation targets range from reviving the Klang River to additional funds for fighting crime.
A RM2bil sum would promote green technology products, with the application period extended to the end of 2015.
Malaysians in the lower income group remain the focus of Federal assistance. There is aid for single earners here, a subsidy for KTM Komuter passengers drawing up to RM3,000 monthly, and incentives for fishermen and padi farmers.
There is also legal aid for those unable to afford legal representation, even a group insurance scheme for hawkers and small business operators.
The minimum pension for long-serving Government employees is raised, and an income tax deduction tweak for the first RM50,000 of annual income.
There is assistance for single mothers in entrepreneurship training, and a cash rebate plus an interest rate subsidy on loans for school bus operators who wish to replace old buses.
There are loans for trainees in skills acquisition, aid for raising the employability of jobless graduates, and RM50mil for soft loans in a Young Entrepreneurs Fund.
Budget 2013's distinction, however, is coverage of middle-class concerns as well.
There is a RM1.9bil allocation for building 123,000 affordable homes for the middle-income group, assistance for entrepreneurs, and tax incentives for those in the oil and gas sector including a 100% income tax waiver for 10 years.
All these and more, including a hefty chunk of nearly RM20bil for health services, add up to a RM251.6bil Budget at an improved fiscal deficit of 4%.
These are all carefully calibrated specifics designed for practical application, not random numbers, fuzzy imitations or wild estimates as election season gimmicks or staged melodrama.
Although not the monopoly of any political ideology, such responsibility is certainly the prerogative of an incumbent Federal Government as distinct from mere critics on the sidelines.