New budget for rakyat
1. New Belanjawan 2019 system
On 2nd November 2018, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government announced that Malaysia will be using a new budget system for 2019 belanjawan - Zero-based budgeting (ZBB).
In the past, the belanjawan was tweaked from the previous one to suit the needs and plans for the upcoming years. However, under zero-based budgeting, the budget is rebuilt from scratch and will continue to do so every year and every item in the belanjawan must be justified.
How is the new budgeting benefits us?
By implementing the ZBB, PH is able to spend and track the spending more wisely on every item and focusing more on settling the debt. Based on ZBB, PH has managed to save 47% from the initial cost of LRT3, RM31.6 billion to RM16.6 billion. On top of that, PH also manages to save RM8.8 billion for MRT2 project to RM30.5 billion from the initial estimated cost, RM39.3 billion.
Reducing the cost of living
PH government is said to make a mistake by abolishing the Goods & Services Tax (GST) introduced by Najib. How true is this? Guess we still have to wait for a little longer to know the truth behind this allegation. After all, 1 year is not enough lah to judge. Let’s give PH more time okay?
The switch was made simply because GST did not spark joy at all, instead, it sparked rage in rakyat and it was widely believed to be the main contributor to a higher cost of living cost in Malaysia. PH decided to introduce SST because they want to get rid of the idea that tax will burden us. To ensure the implementation of tax won’t be a burden SST is built as a single-stage tax and unlike GST that was a multi-stage tax. The single-stage tax would ensure all goods/services be taxed only once at importer/manufacturer/service provider and no further.
By going with SST, the cost of living is expected to reduce because SST is only levied on consumer goods and services. If you don’t wish to bear the tax, instead of eating at a restaurant that is levied with SST, you can opt for mamak stall. Other than that, SST could reduce the amount of tax collected. Previously, about RM44 billion was collected under GST, but with SST, only RM30 billion is estimated to be collected. Having said that, about RM14 billion will be saved in your pockets.
3. BR1M vs. BSH
Even before the GE14, PH has informed us that they want to change the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) to program Bantuan Sara Hidup Rakyat (BSH). Under the new aid system, although the amount of bantuan given is less than BR1M, it’s said to be more target-specific and efficient as only those who are deemed as poor are worthy to receive this aid.
With BSH, PH managed to save RM5.6 billion with only RM1.2 billion allocated for 4.1 million households. The reason behind this change is because our new government is focusing more on settling Malaysia's debt first.
4. Largest allocation goes to the Education Ministry
Under the Belanjawan 2019, the largest allocation goes to Education Ministry with an allocation of RM60.2 billion or 19.1% of the whole spending.
Below are some of the spending plans for the education sector:
- RM100 schooling aid is given to standard 1 - form 5 students from a household with an income less than RM3,000 a month
- RM3.8 billion is allocated for scholarships and students’ loans. Additional RM2 billion for MARA sponsored students
- RM17.5 million is allocated to the Malaysia Professional Accountancy Centre (MyPAC) to produce 600 accountants in the next 5 years
- RM206 million is given for the development of polytechnic and community college programmes
- RM400 million is allocated for R&D by IPT
Now we know, the RM60.2 billion is the price we have to pay for a better Malaysia in the future.
5. B40 aids
PH also has introduced lower socioeconomic aids under the B40 income group, such as:
- RM120 is given to children (up to 4 children per household) with the exclusion of OKU
- RM40 electricity bill rebate every month for the registered poor and hardcore family under e-Kasih system.
6. Affordable housing price and micro-house
RM1 billion funds are allocated by PH to facilitate home ownership for B40 and M40 income groups. With this housing fund, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government introduced a new housing policy - National Housing Policy 2018 - 2025. This new policy focused on lower income group whereby affordable housing price has been capped at RM300,000.
PH also make another effort on producing more affordable housing with the new micro-housing program. This DBKL micro-housing program is set to launch in August 2019 and will be eligible for unmarried Malaysians between the age of 18 to 35 years old with income less than RM2,000. Under this program, eligible renters only need to pay RM100 rent monthly to get comfortable accommodation in the city.
Affordable housing program and policy created by PH to reduce the number of unsold houses in Malaysia as the unsold houses numbers right now are staggering.
7. National Hope Aid
National Hope Aid is an initiative announced by PH to replace the Bantuan Bakti Negara and 1Malaysia Non-Pensionable Veterans Contributions. The aid will ensure our military veterans are able to sustain themselves after military service. For now, RM500 is allocated per person and more initiatives will be created in the future.
8. New petrol price
We’re sure many of you’ve heard that PH would begin floating the fuel prices, right? But you guys need to chill dulu because PH has promised us that the price of RON95 (the only petrol we can afford anyway) would not exceed RM2.20. As you can see, right now RON95 is capped at RM2.08 per little.
But, PH didn’t stop there. With the ceiling price of RON95 has been reduced, PH also announced that they would give fuel subsidy for single car and motorcycle owners right after the second quarter of 2019. To ensure this subsidy will only receive by poor people, rakyat who owns multiple vehicles is not eligible to enjoy this aid. On top of that, PH will subsidise RON 95 petrol for those with cars with the engine capacity of 1,500cc and below, and 125cc and below for motorcycles.
Read this article to keep yourself updated with petrol price: [PETROL PRICE MALAYSIA UPDATE] Is It Time to Ditch Ron 97?
9. Frozen toll hikes
Under the allocation of Belanjawan 2019, PH has made a decision to freeze all toll hikes in 2019. These freezes between intra-city toll hikes on 21 highways such as DUKE, LDP, Kesas, NPE and many others.
The freeze in toll hikes, however, would cost PH nearly RM1 billion but PH has decided to continue with this plan because freezing toll hike is an effort made by PH to reduce the expensive cost of living. This effort is also made to fulfil PH’s general election manifesto promise as stated in the Buku Harapan.
Among many policies that have been revamped or abolished, PTPN blacklisting policy is one of them.
10. PTPTN initiatives announced
Last year in June, PH decided to cancel more than 400,00 PTPTN loan defaulters from the immigration blacklist. PH has been strictly disagreed with the said policy to blacklist PTPTN loaners who are unable to pay back due to being unemployed graduates and earning a small income.
Right now, PTPTN is considering other measures of repayment such as barring loan defaulters from renewing their passports, driving licences and road tax.
11. Minimum wage is raised
Minimum wage issue has been debated many times and finally, PH agreed to raise the wage rate. The new wage rate is streamlined in January 2019 with RM5.29 per hour or RM1,100 per month.
PH said the new rate should be able to reduce the increase of living cost in Malaysia.
12. Unlimited travel for public transport
Besides the education sector, the transportation sector also received an allocation of RM240 million for public transportation. Ministry of Transport uses the allocation for unlimited monthly (MY100 and MY50) passes for public transportation services such as Rapid Bus, LRT, Monorail, BRT, MRT and feeder bus service starting 1st January this year. A 20% discounts is also given for KTM fares later this year.
Unlimited travel passes allow PH to encourage more rakyat to use our public transportation service that surely could reduce traffic jams, especially in the city area.
13. More taska setups in government offices
RM10 million are allocated for 50 more daycare setups (taska) in government offices. This initiative is made to increase more women in the workforce. Previously, women tend to exit the workforce due to family commitments. By providing more taska, PH hopes to see growth in the participation of the workforce as women are also an important resource to drive economic growth.
Improving rakyat’s health
14. B40 health insurance scheme
The National B40 Protection Scheme is offered to all B40 income group between the age of 18 to 55 years old starting January this year. This RM2 billion worth scheme is used to provide health insurance and takaful protection for health issues and 36 critical illness up to RM8,000 medical coverage.
This scheme is the first of its kind in Malaysia, made to improve the wellbeing of the rakyat and access to health services.
15. 1Malaysia Clinics are closed
Believe it or not, we almost forget the existence of these clinics and so do you, right? So, under PH, 1Malaysia Clinics are revamped. With a total of 347 clinics, 293 are turned into community clinics, another 23 are turned into health clinics and the rest is closed down permanently to reduce any unnecessary spending.
Deputy Health Minister also claimed that 1Malaysia clinics have a tendency to provide false diagnosis and treatment as most of the clinics were run by medical assistants and not a doctor. Shutting down these clinics will ensure no more misdiagnosis that could lead to a severe health problem, which requires more treatment cost.
16. Smoking bans
This ban made legal this year on 1st January whereby all eateries are gazetted as no-smoking zones. This ban also included shisha, vape and all e-cigarette products. So, if you want to smoke, you are required to be at least 3 metres away from eateries premises.
Any smokers flouting the ban will be fined or worse, be jailed. However, the ban’s punishment will only come into effect next year as PH wants to raise awareness first.
This is a health campaign under the Ministry of Health to make Malaysia a smoke-free nation by 2025 and to reduce the number of smokers in Malaysia as well as reducing the health cost spends on smokers. As for now, about RM3 million has been spent on cancer treatment.
17. Anti-vax? Not under PH
As suggested by the Health Ministry, vaccinations are compulsory for all children in Malaysia especially against diphtheria and measles following the death of a 2-year-old unvaccinated kid in Johor.
Regardless which side are you on, let’s not jump to a conclusion yet as PH also has formed a vaccinations task force to study the viability of making immunisations mandatory for Malaysian since the debate between pro-vax and anti-vax is raging on both sides.
Ensuring rakyat’s safety
18. New window tint ruling
PH has announced revisions to the current vehicle tinting rules which were last revised on 2016 under Motor Vehicles (Prohibition of Certain Types of Glass).
The new guideline is said to be more transparent (no pun intended) for every type of cars. The new tint ruling is also made to increase the safety of e-hailing users and public transport users.
19. Registry for child offender
A registry for child offender was introduced on 1st April this year by the Ministry of Women, Community & Family Development.
This registry contains 3,000 names of the registered child offenders from 2017 until this year.
This registry was introduced after the increase of reported cases of minors sexually assaulted at schools and daycare centres. With this registry, schools and daycare could be more careful in selecting teachers and workers as well as ensuring the safety of minors.
We can see a lot of efforts have been made to reduce our national debt and to help low-income group. Apart from that, PH also works really hard on 1MDB investigation and we all can start to see the result already.
But what about other years ahead?
One thing for sure, we look forward to seeing how PH will make Malaysia free from debt and manage to sustain all of these initiatives.