Reactions - Malaysia 2008 Budget: No affirmative Actions to Address Weaknesses; Inflation & Cost living High; Leakages Bad; No big policy changes
EVENT: Economic growth should reach 6% this year even in the context of a
SIGNIFICANCE: It last week presented its 2008 budget, forecasting an acceleration in economic growth next year up to 6.5%. However, a deteriorating external environment poses a threat, while the government remains concerned about waning competitiveness and fluctuating levels of private investment.
ANALYSIS: Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who is also the finance minister, last week announced expenditure of 176.9 billion ringgit (50.6 billion dollars) for the 2008 financial year (starting January), a marked 10.9% increase on 2007. Of this, 48.1 billion ringgit will be allocated for national development, including 20.6 billion ringgit for agriculture, industry and infrastructure. The dominant themes of the budget were:
* enhancing economic competitiveness;
* strengthening human capital; and
* "ensuring the well-being of all Malaysians".
However, while there is a strong social emphasis, the budget lacks the populist thrust expected of a government that will go to the polls within the next six months. Rather, it reinforces a programme of fiscal fine-tuning that Abdullah began in 2006:
1.Tax cuts. A single-tier company income tax of 26% will be introduced, allowing profits to be taxed only at the corporation level and exempting dividends received. In 2009, the corporate tax rate will be further lowered to 25%, from 27% at present and below the 26% announced for 2008 in last year's budget. A range of taxes affecting real estate, fund management, company mergers and acquisitions and business services will also be cut from 2008.
The end result will be an improvement in the investment climate without the revenue losses that would have occurred if the government had taken the anticipated and more popular route of slashing personal income taxes. Tax revenues are expected to rise by 3.7%, reducing the fiscal deficit to 3.1% of GDP from 3.2% this year. A deficit of 3.4% of GDP had been forecast for 2007.
2. Spreading wealth. A total of 15.6 billion ringgit has been set aside for education, social services, health and housing support for poorer families to narrow income gaps, particularly between urban middle classes and less developed rural communities (see MALAYSIA: Northern project poses funding issues - August 14, 2007). School fees will be abolished, there will be higher funding for tertiary education and job training and more money for low-cost housing, while property investment rules will be streamlined.
Public planners have acknowledged that household incomes need to be raised and labour skills improved if
3. Building trust. Auditing systems will be overhauled to raise the level of corporate governance. A Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board will be established under the Securities Commission to monitor auditors of public companies and encourage greater transparency. Firms with high standards of corporate governance and market conduct will have their regulatory approvals fast-tracked.
Surveys of investors have indicated that poor levels of corporate accountability have been a factor in the steady decline in capital inflows from abroad. Foreign direct investment (FDI) fell to an estimated 3.9 billion dollars in 2006, compared with commitments of 5.5 billion dollars in 2001 (see
The budget forecasts accelerated growth of 6.0-6.5% in 2008, compared with an expected 6.0% expansion this year, largely on the strength of the higher public spending and a buoyant services sector. To achieve the Vision 2020 goals, the economy will need to expand by at least 7.0% in both years, a level of growth that has not been sustained since the exports boom of the mid-1990s (see MALAYSIA: Plan moves on from infrastructure focus - April 20, 2006).
An expansion of 5.6% was recorded in the first half of the year, after revised growth of 5.5% in the first quarter and 5.7% in the subsequent three months. To maintain this momentum, the government will be relying heavily on domestic demand to offset a deteriorating external environment:
1. Manufacturing. Export earnings rose by a meagre 2.4% in the first six months as demand fell for key electrical and electronics goods. There were signs of a slight recovery in orders for consumer electronics in July, with domestic sales up by 3.2%, but declining exports fell by a further 8.8%, while shipments to the
Manufacturers, who account for 30.0% of GDP, blamed the exports slump for their fragile growth of 1.5% in the second quarter, down from 2.0% in the previous three months. Output is expected to remain subdued during a transitional change to valued-added production and heavy investment in new industries such as biotechnology. Agriculture is also suffering due to flooding and seasonal cuts in palm oil production, contracting by 0.9% in the second quarter and registering an expansion of only 0.6% for the year so far despite stronger commodity sales.
2. Spending. Consumption expenditure increased by 12.6% in the second quarter and 8.3% in the first, driven by growth of almost 12.0% in private demand during the first half of the year, as the economy benefited from a hike in civil service salaries and favourable commodity prices. Public consumption was up 10.2% in the second quarter and 7.1% in the first three months and will continue to expand as infrastructure spending rises under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
3. Finance sector. Services -- vital to growth prospects as manufacturing weakens -- could be the first sector affected by the credit squeeze. The sector expanded by 9.2% in the second quarter, helped by the vulnerable finance, tourism, real estate and retail industries. Finance and insurance activities grew by 11.0%, while real estate surged by 18.0%, transport by 9.3% -- largely because of higher tourism arrivals -- and retailing industries by 11.9%.
The diversification of financial services has made the industry relatively insulated against outside pressures, while the government has 93.2 billion dollars of foreign reserves at its disposal to help stabilise exchange markets. However, growth in services and the wider economy will slow if the credit crunch spreads beyond US lending markets, curbing consumption and dampening tourism arrivals. Viewed from this perspective, the reliance upon services income may be difficult to sustain, though the impact may not be felt fully until late in the fourth quarter.
Growth prospects are clouded by the uncertain external economic climate and weakness in manufacturing. Strong consumption will help shield business from a moderate downturn in global demand, but it will be difficult to avoid the fallout from a prolonged slowdown. In that eventuality, growth would likely slow to 5.0-5.5% in 2007, with the impact being felt through weaker export revenues and capital inflows.
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UPDATE: Sep 12 2008ABOVE: Malaysiakini report (details H E R E) attributing to DAP leader's Lim Kit Siang differing budget figures was first raised in Jeff Ooi's Blog (see details below). Jeff is now a DAP potential MP aspirant and left it to his DAP boss to raise the matter in Parliament. And Bernama's in the face of hard figures put up a brief report on this (see bottom).
The budget figures have been revised umpteen times before they settle on a certain figures with the aid of the powerful computers in MOF. The fiddling of the final development spending figure of RM40 billion figure to give the desire "feel good" budget deficit 3.1% must have been done much earlier as the Treasury's Economic Report was prepared earlier than the final version of the Budget figures read out by PM Abdullah.
Is this the same problem with the Bumi equity percentages that was hotly contested by Dr Lim Teck Chee that cost him to sacrifice his job?
The Cooked-up 2008 Budget Figures that reduces the Budget Deficit to 3.1%
From Jeff Ooi, Posting H E R E dated
Budget figures & Abdullah's 'magical thinking'
Those who had applauded Abdullah Badawi for further reducing budget deficit from 3.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007 to 3.1% for the next fiscal year should take a re-look.
According to Business Times Singapore, the discrepancy is between figures in the Treasury's Economic Report (2007/2008), read in tandem with the Budget, and Abdullah's actual budget speech.
The Economic Report and Abdullah are consistent in that -- despite the record spending at RM176.9 billion -- they both maintained the federal budget deficit will continue to shrink from 3.3% of GDP in 2006 to 3.2% in 2007, and 3.1% in 2008. But the inputs used to arrive at the budget deficit estimated for 2008 were arithmetically conflicting and glaringly non-aligned.
In the Treasury's Economic Report, the figure given was RM40 billion (see ABOVE), 2.1% lower than the figure in 2007 and indicating a slightly contractionary budget.
SOURCE: Abdullah's actual budget speech
However, in Abdullah's speech, the figure given was RM48.1 billion (see ABOVE), which is a record number and more than 15% higher than in the previous year.
"That's impossible," an economist at a Malaysian bank was quoted as saying by the Business Times. "The Economic Report states quite clearly that a deficit of 3.1 per cent would be attained on development spending of RM40 billion and not RM48 billion." If that mystifies economists, why didn't our business editors alert us? This is probably the first time a Malaysian PM's estimate for the budget deficit has become doubtful.
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Kit Siang Disputes Figures In 2008 Budget
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 (Bernama) -- Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang Wednesday sought clarification from the government over the difference in the figures for development allocation in the 2008 Budget tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last Friday.
The DAP MP for Ipoh Timur claimed that Abdullah, when tabling the budget, announced an allocation of RM48.12 billion for development whereas the amount stated in the Economic Report 2007/2008 issued by the Finance Ministry was only RM40 billion. "This shows a difference of RM8.12 billion and the government should explain why this occurred," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby. Lim, who raised the matter during the debate in the Dewan Rakyat today, said a difference of RM8.12 billion was a big amount and could cause the
government to have a deficit budget of 3.1 per cent to 4.6 per cent.He said the difference in the figures was also highlighted in the Singapore Business Times.
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From NTV7 - Budget 2008 Discussion;
"The feel good indirect effect starting from last year since the 9MP was announced to improve the Public Delivery system. We have seen a lot of foreign interest in the market. As a result we have seen the market improved 30% last year and 20% this year and this generated an additional RM165 billion in terms of market Cap. If you assume 50% is due to retail investors and that is RM75 billion in wealth effect – the positive wealth effect. And that is pretty in line with the strength we see in private consumption for the first half of this year"
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“This feeling good should be a little more on the business side by that it make sense because I am rather worry about the behavior of private investment and I do hope that the expansion of investment activity . I don’t think I am too deeply disturbed by that as I have said the government has made a lot of concessions to the non-business side over the last 6-8 months and it’s about time for the business side. I look forward to this in the next 2 budgets”
More opinions coming...
Opposition Welcomes 2008 Budget
ABOVE: Opposition members in Parliament - all unimpressed by the Budget
More icing than cake: Reaction to the Budget 2008 This is without doubt an election budget, spread thinly to please everyone. But it provides no solution to our deficit or gives us a much-needed competitive edge in the region. In short:- there's more icing than cake in this budget. The Budget deficit should still be cause for concern, even though it is lower, according to the Finance Minister; as we don't seem to have the ability to reduce expenditure significantly and improve our revenues in the past years. There should be some fiscal prudence exercised, considering our economy is supposedly doing well and there is full employment. Federal government revenue for 2008 is estimated to grow at a slower rate of 3.7 percent to RM147.093 billion, compared to the 14.8 percent increase in 2007. There is no explanation for this very significant drop in revenue growth. According to a local analyst house, only one-third of the budget is said to be coming from the government. Where will the rest come from? We have to supplement this by way of loans, the issuance of bonds and through foreign funds such as Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in order for the budget to succeed. According to the Finance Minister today, our FDI inflows are strong. I beg to differ. FDI is steadily declining. In 2006, it amounted to an estimated USD4 billion compared to USD5.5 billion in 2001 China, India and fast-growing Vietnam are luring away key foreign investments, even though we offer very lucrative incentives. There are two obvious reasons not addressed by the budget: (1) The prevalence of ethnicity-based policies which deter investors abroad, as well as investors from If we do not reform these two areas, very little FDI will come our way. Then all our money and efforts will fall flat. There appears to be no change in the economic growth forecast, compared to last year. It is still 6%. We still lagging behind We cannot just be big on announcement but poor in delivery. No one is averse to "goodies" for the people, especially for the poor. Even with the best of budgets, if we remain weak in implementation and rife with corruption, the people will suffer and bear the burden, which will eventually be reflected in their daily lives. For example:- Putting more money into MSC and MSC-related project is not the solution, when we do not have a commercially viable operator. Without much to show, it will burden the government with real estate costs and capital expenditure. We can also view at the state of low-cost housing in the country to arrive at this conclusion. Furthermore, there is no evidence of socializing the nation's wealth ("Merakyatkan kekayaan dan ekonomi Negara") to those in need, regardless of ethnicity. The other issue is the ballooning of the budget less than a year after it's been announced. Take for instance, the new Palace. We were informed that it will only cost RM 400 million last year. Now apparently the costs have speculated to be double of the original costs. Or that the Northern Corridor Economic Region, we spent RM 11 million just on the launch. We can do so much to alleviate poverty substantively in that region with just this amount, through micro-credit schemes, for example. We had just debated the Supply Bill (Addition) this week. We have to add on RM 10.8 billion, close to 10% of the 2007 Budget. Those who benefit most, appears to be the corporate sector. Those who need help the most – the middle and lower income groups – do not appear to benefit significantly from this budget. Private sector workers are still not getting minimum wage and Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) even though they are the main contributors to the national economy. There are no real incentives and little relief to offset the rising cost of living, inflation and other daily hardships. Fundamental units of our economy – the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have little tangible benefit from it. On top of that, it remains ironic that the poorer states, Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail; Member of Parliament, Permatang Pauh = = === == = == = == =
"It's definitely an election Budget with goodies all around. For those who've expected the government to be serious in fighting crime will be disappointed. The Budget is filled with the usual sweet sounding statements and recycled announcements. I don't feel any Malaysian would feel safe in their homes or on the streets after hearing the Budget. Can the women feel safe from crime just because they are given such big allocation?"
- DAP Leader Lim Kit Siang
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“Twenty five percent of the Budget which is allocated for education is a good move but the huge amount allocated for national defence is worrying. Healthcare allocation is high but we hope there is quality assurance in the hospitals, staff and services. I hope there is progress in public transportation's quality too” - DAP MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw (BELOW)
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"The Budget is more like icing than cake. It is an election Budget which is thinly spread out. We can see the pronouncement, but what about the delivery? We can see that the deficit has been reduced completely, but we still need to work on reducing it further. When you talk about goodies, only one-third comes from the government, where do the rest come from? Furthermore, nothing was mentioned about taking initiative to control the leakages in goodies delivery." - Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (BELOW)
President, People's Justice Party (KeADILan)
More icing than cake: Reaction to the Budget 2008
This is without doubt an election budget, spread thinly to please everyone. But it provides no solution to our deficit or gives us a much-needed competitive edge in the region. In short:- there's more icing than cake in this budget. The Budget deficit should still be cause for concern, even though it is lower, according to the Finance Minister; as we don't seem to have the ability to reduce expenditure significantly and improve our revenues in the past years. There should be some fiscal prudence exercised, considering our economy is supposedly doing well and there is full employment. Federal government revenue for 2008 is estimated to grow at a slower rate of 3.7 percent to RM147.093 billion, compared to the 14.8 percent increase in 2007. There is no explanation for this very significant drop in revenue growth. According to a local analyst house, only one-third of the budget is said to be coming from the government. Where will the rest come from? We have to supplement this by way of loans, the issuance of bonds and through foreign funds such as Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in order for the budget to succeed. According to the Finance Minister today, our FDI inflows are strong. I beg to differ. FDI is steadily declining. In 2006, it amounted to an estimated USD4 billion compared to USD5.5 billion in 2001 China, India and fast-growing Vietnam are luring away key foreign investments, even though we offer very lucrative incentives. There are two obvious reasons not addressed by the budget: (1) The prevalence of ethnicity-based policies which deter investors abroad, as well as investors from
If we do not reform these two areas, very little FDI will come our way. Then all our money and efforts will fall flat.
There appears to be no change in the economic growth forecast, compared to last year. It is still 6%. We still lagging behind
We cannot just be big on announcement but poor in delivery. No one is averse to "goodies" for the people, especially for the poor. Even with the best of budgets, if we remain weak in implementation and rife with corruption, the people will suffer and bear the burden, which will eventually be reflected in their daily lives.
For example:- Putting more money into MSC and MSC-related project is not the solution, when we do not have a commercially viable operator. Without much to show, it will burden the government with real estate costs and capital expenditure. We can also view at the state of low-cost housing in the country to arrive at this conclusion. Furthermore, there is no evidence of socializing the nation's wealth ("Merakyatkan kekayaan dan ekonomi Negara") to those in need, regardless of ethnicity. The other issue is the ballooning of the budget less than a year after it's been announced. Take for instance, the new Palace. We were informed that it will only cost RM 400 million last year. Now apparently the costs have speculated to be double of the original costs. Or that the Northern Corridor Economic Region, we spent RM 11 million just on the launch. We can do so much to alleviate poverty substantively in that region with just this amount, through micro-credit schemes, for example. We had just debated the Supply Bill (Addition) this week. We have to add on RM 10.8 billion, close to 10% of the 2007 Budget. Those who benefit most, appears to be the corporate sector. Those who need help the most – the middle and lower income groups – do not appear to benefit significantly from this budget. Private sector workers are still not getting minimum wage and Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) even though they are the main contributors to the national economy. There are no real incentives and little relief to offset the rising cost of living, inflation and other daily hardships. Fundamental units of our economy – the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have little tangible benefit from it. On top of that, it remains ironic that the poorer states,
Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail; Member of Parliament, Permatang Pauh
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He, however, had reservations over the proposal to recruit 12,000 policemen a year in view that the training facilities could only accommodate 3,000 at any one time. The proposal on public safety also caught the attention of another DAP MP, Teresa Kok of Seputeh, who expressed the hope that the 2,000 police patrol cars to be provided would be made full use of and not left idling because of lack of drivers as was the case now. She also supported the proposal to give three-year contracts to the secretaries-general of ministries, saying that it would improve the service quality but hoped that the scheme would be extended to all posts. Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, however, said the budget had side-lined the manufacturing sector, the main contributor to the country's economy. PAS Youth head Salahuddin Ayub said the free textbooks for all schoolchildren and the abolishment of school fees were long overdue.
He said next year's budget gave largesse to the corporate sector but the incentives for the agricultural and rural sectors were vague, citing for example, that there was no tax reduction for agriculal equipment and materials. "We are also sad that no bonus was announced for the civil servants, which means that there will be none for this year," the Kubang Kerian MP said.
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Budget 2008 Achieves Good Balance, Says Khazanah
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 (Bernama) -- The Budget 2008 unveiled today has been described as responsible and achieving a good balance on three key axes -- between growth and distribution, between expansion and prudence and between immediate and medium/longer term imperatives. "In spite of a heavier budgetary burden from large ticket items such as the civil service pay hike, the fiscal deficit target has come down further to 3.1 percent without compromising on growth targets of more than six percent," said Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director, Datuk Azman Mokhtar. "The three key strategies of national competitiveness, human capital and well being of the rakyat are compact and focused. Rather than trying to satisfy too many functions, choices were clearly made which is good," he said in a statement. On the growth front, the government investment arm said measures to drive national and corporate competitiveness were very appropriate and timely, in particular the corporate income tax reduction and the improvements in delivery system through PEMUDAH, civil service reforms and immigration processes. PEMUDAH is an acronym for Special Taskforce to Facilitate Business. "For specific sectors, where Khazanah or our companies operate in, we look forward to the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) specific allocations and measures such as the improved immigration processes, allocations for security and the incentives for the property sector to accelerate development in the IDR in the spirit of public-private partnership."
"In addition, we welcome the emphasis given to several other sectors where we operate in including biotechnology, agriculture, broadband services, information and communications and technology (ICT) and Malaysia International Islamic Financial (MIFC)," he said. He said Khazanah together with the government linked companies (GLCs) would continue to play a leading role in corporate social responsibility (CSR) in line with the government's call. "Benefits from the GLC Transformation Programme have accrued significantly not just to shareholders where some RM129 billion of market capitalisation has been achieved since 2004, but have also been very much extended to all stakeholders." "For instance, in large GLCs such as Tenaga Nasional, Telekom Malaysia and UEM, on average some 70 percent of the procurement running into billions of ringgit a year are currently awarded to Bumiputera suppliers," he said.
In addition, he said that the PINTAR programme to adopt schools especially in underdeveloped areas pioneered by GLCs would continue to gather pace, and GLCs would be ready to further take the lead.
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A Shrewd Budget, Says Nazir Razak
Alliance Financial Group's chief executive officer Datuk Bridget Lai said the incentives for the Islamic financial sector will encourage greater inflow of investments from the Middle East, "They will also spur the development of Islamic funds management and the up-skilling of Islamic banking talents and expertise that will, in the long run, further solidify the country's position as a premier Islamic banking hub," she said. Lai said the exemption of stamp duty for corporate mergers and acquisitions will spur such activities and the investment banking and corporate financing needs. "This exemption will also provide incentive for bank mergers," she said. Public Bank's chairman Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow said Budget 2008 was a major step to continuously ensure timely implementation of projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. "This will be good for the economy. We are confident that the new measures to hasten activities in biotechnology, ICT (information and communications technology) and services sectors will accelerate the process of economic transformation up in the value chain so that
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Stamp Duty Goodie For Husbands, Wives Has Lawmakers In Stitches
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EPF To Announce Details On New Housing Withdrawal In December
In a statement here today, chief executive officer, Datuk Azlan Zainol, said EPF supported the move. "It allows our members, especially the lower income earners, to pay for their monthly housing loans through the new withdrawal scheme. "Currently, EPF allows members to withdraw their savings from Account Two to buy or build a house, and to reduce mortgages. "The new withdrawal, to be implemented in January next year, will enable members to utilse their savings also from Account Two to pay for the monthly instalments," he said.
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Budget 2008 Reflects Govt Committment To Boost Competitiveness
category of visa for business travellers which has a longer validity period as this will facilitate easier entry for businessmen coming into
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2008 Budget Impetus For PM's Agenda To Create Quality Human Capital
In tabling the 2008 Budget in the Dewan Rakyat today, Abdullah, who is the Finance Minister, outlined several measures to empower human capital development -- the second strategy of the budget. Understanding that the moulding of human capital begins at the basic level of education, he announced a RM30-billion allocation to the Education Ministry to empower primary and secondary schools. A portion of the allocation would also help in the implementation of the Education Development Blueprint which incorporates the smart schools programme, upgrading of the teaching profession, and bridging the gap in education between the urban and rural areas. The effort to empower education with the objective of enhancing the quality and performance of schools will see the government establishing 60 cluster schools next year. Each of these schools will be given RM500,000 to undertake co-curricular activities and training and for teaching aids. In a move to provide all children the opportunity to obtain an education and to ease the financial burden on parents, the prime minister
abolished school fees and the fees for the Sijil Tinggi Agama
education totally free. To further reduce the cost of education and encourage the participation of students in co-curricular activities, the government is to provide
free of charge the uniform for any one co-curricular activity to students from families whose household income is RM1,000 or less a month. The prime minister said the active participation of students in co-curricular activities was important in helping to mould character and shape leadership qualities.
In the effort to upgrade the teaching profession, Abdullah announced anincrease in the allowance of special education teachers, from RM100 to RM250 a month, and a rise in the allowance of graduate substitute teachers, from RM85 to RM 150 per day. The government is to also give an allowance of RM60 per hour for degree holders and RM50 per hour for diploma holders teaching Chinese and Tamil languages in national primary schools.
Retired teachers are to be recruited to train teachers and serve as substitute teachers. These measures reflect the government's recognition of the important role of teachers in shaping quality human capital. Primary and secondary schools funded and well-managed by trust and charitable bodies are to be given income tax exemption. This measure will especially benefit Chinese and Tamil schools as well as religious schools. The higher education sector is also strengthened in Budget 2008. As much as RM12 billion is provided for the implementation of various higher education projects and programmes, including stepping up research activities, development and commercialisation at four research universities and increasing allocation to Universiti Teknologi Mara to achieve the target of 200,000 undergraduates by 2010.The allocation is to be used to upgrade and expand Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Universiti Darul Iman and the National Defence University apart from rebranding community colleges through the offer of courses at diploma level, the setting up of new community colleges and intensifying cooperation with the private sector. The programmes are directed at producing highly knowledgable and first-class human capital as well as to develop world-class institutions of higher learning. Also, from next year, the Public Service Department (PSD) will increase sponsorship for undergraduate students in local universities from 5,000 students to 10,000 annually. Some RM2 billion is to be allocated to various government training agencies to increase the number and quality of trained workers, in line with the needs of the labour market. Of the sum, RM480 million is to be allocated for GiatMARA and Industrial Training Institute (ILP) training programmes, as well as skills training
in the National Youth Training Institute. The prime minister also announced the allocation of RM550 million to upgrade polytechnic and community colleges to enhance the capacity of training institutions and RM750 million for the construction of Advanced Technology Training Centre in Taiping and an ILP in Marang. The scope of the Human Resource Development Fund is to be expanded to provide greater flexibility for employers to choose training and advanced education programmes for their staff. To meet the shortage of skilled workers in the construction sector, the use of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIBD) fund is to be stepped up with the CIBD implementing the Masterskills Training Programme encompassing management skills and physical construction. Among the measures to empower human capital outlined in the 2008 Budget is lifelong learning. "I often emphasise the importance of us always enhancing our value," Abdullah said, and proposed tax exemption of up to RM5,000 on education fees to be extended to all fields at degree level.
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Free Education - Historic Moment In National Education
secondary schools from next year as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the 2008 Budget today is a historic moment in the country's education development, said Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. He said it showed the emphasis the government paid to the education of children in the country. "It is something everyone should be proud as it marks another milestone in the country's history," he told reporters after the budget's tabling in Parliament today.Abdullah announced that school fees would be abolished in primary and secondary schools while the Textboook Loan Scheme would be extended to all students from next year thus making education at the school level free for its citizens. Besides this, he also announced a RM500,000 allocation for each cluster school (schools of excellence) for the purposes of holding co-curriculum activities, training and purchase of learning tools. On income tax exemption for charity bodies that financed primary and secondary schools especially Chinese and Tamil schools, he said the step showed the government's open attitude towards the variety of education streams.Under the 2008 Budget, a total of RM30 billion will be allocated for education which will also include the implementation of the Education Development Blueprint, the Excellent Schools Programme as well as dignifying the teaching profession and narrowing the education gap between rural and urban areas.
2008 Budget Expected To Be A Boon For The People
"Its a lovely budget because it takes care of the people, it provides lots of consideration for the ordinary people, it thinks of the family, and the unity in the family, husband and wife, everything boils out to say that it's a budget that unites the people and makes them happy," hesaid. He was also happy with the RM9.7 billion allocation for his ministry saying that it would help ensure more efficient and effective general maintenance work.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed advised students to work harder and be thankful to the government for the facilities offered to them in the Budget. "This Budget focuses on the lower income earners to ensure prosperity for the people. The Public Service Department will increase the number of scholarships for students in local universities and also increase the cost of living allowance for students overseas," he added. Under the Budget, more than 90,000 students at local higher learninginstitutions will benefit from the government's move to increase the cost of living allowance (Cola) between 23 per cent and 84 per cent while those studying in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada stand to enjoy an increase in their Cola of up to 97 per cent as of this month.
On the incentives for teachers, Mustapa said it would motivate teachers to perform better and this would further raise the quality of students. "There will be continuation, when there is improvement at the lower level, the standard at the university level will also improve," he added.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting (AB)VE) described the budget as comprehensive and fair for all the people, regardless of their race. "I welcome this budget, especially on matters relating to housing, properties and also the public delivery system," he added. He said the incentive on the 50 per cent stamp duty exemption on documents of transfer for purchase of one house costing not more than RM250,000 and for contributors of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to make monthly withdrawals from the balance in Account 2 for housing loan repayments, would help spur growth in the property and housing industry. On racial integration, Ong, who is also MCA President, said this would be further boosted with the provision of free school text books for all students and the increase in allowance for teachers teaching Chinese and
Tamil in national schools. "If economy is properly planned, people of all races will benefit and there will be no complaints of others getting more. Therefore, we should all ensure success of the country's economic development withoutthinking who we are as long as we are Malaysians," he added.Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said the 2008 Budget was one
which cares about the people's current needs. "This Budget has the strength in terms of strategies which can fulfil the current needs of the people and for a better future for thecountry," he said. "All quarters should welcome this budget because it meets the people's aspiration like efforts to curb crime, increase in allocation for the disabled, increase in scholarships for students abroad and facilities for child care for mothers and welfare homes," he added.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said said she welcomedthe 2008 Budget for allocating RM217 million for sports, including for upgrading and maintenance of sports complexes and facilities.She also hoped that the people would utilise the RM300 tax exemption for buying sporting goods.
People's Progressive Party (PPP) President Datuk M Kayveas said this year's budget was a special gift for Malaysians in conjunction with the country's 50th Merdeka celebration. "Generally, the 2008 Budget is a development budget which outlines steps and strategies to determine the country's development for the next 50 years which encompasses all socio-economic aspects," said Kayveas, who is also deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri ShahrizatAbdul Jalil (ABOVE) said she was happy with the Budget as it contained issues which the ministry had been fighting for. "Certain aid for women, the senior citizens and the disabled have been increased, apart from the tax exemption for companies which carry out their corporate social responsibility," she added.
On tax exemption for companies which provide facilities for the disabled, Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Fong Chang Onn said it would greatly benefit disabled workers in various sectors. "We have raised the matter for so long and I am happy that it is taken into account in this budget," he added. Barisan Nasional Club chairman Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin said the 2008 Budget proved the government's seriousness in enhancing human capital and education, especially in abolishing the school fees and provision of free text books to all students
2008 Budget Reflects Govt's Concern For The People,
In KUALA TERENGGANU, Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh
said the budget focused on development of human capital and that the proposed abolishing of school fees, free text books and increase in welfare aid reflected the government's concern for the people. "We are also very happy with the additional education allocations proposed for the Industrial Training Institute in Marang and also the Universiti Darul Iman," he told Bernama.
In SEREMBAN, Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan described the 2008 Budget as innovative and comprehensive as it took into account the interests of all people. He said it would also help accelerate balanced growth between the urban and rural areas besides reflecting the government's commitment to achieve Vision 2020.
In KANGAR, Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim welcomed theproposed abolishment of school fees and free text books as it ensure every child would get a good education.
In ALOR STAR, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid lauded the proposed move to abolish school fees as it would ease the financial burden of the low income earners, especially those with many children.
In KUANTAN, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said the 2008
Budget was a people-friendly budget and a gift for the people in conjunction with the country's 50th Merdeka anniversary. He said the people would stand to benefit from from various incentives, especially those pertaining to their children's education.
"Giving free text books to school children regardless of their parents income is a step in the right direction to ensure all children have direct and equal access to schooling," he added.
In KUCHING, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said the 2008 Budget, which proposed allocation of RM8 billion for implementation of various projects would help raise the quality of life of the people in Sarawak and Sabah.
Describing it as a generous budget, he was optimistic that theallocation would spur development in both the states. Citing the Sarawak Development Corridor, which would be launched soon, he said it would require federal financial support to spearhead the
revenue-generating energy-intensive industries to be located there. Meanwhile, two
In sharing the same sentiment, PRS president and State Land Development Minister, Datuk Seri Dr James Masing, believed that the focus on improving infrastructure projects would allow better mobility for the rural people besides speeding up the implementation of land development projects.
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Cola Increase To Improve Lives Of Overseas Students
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 (Bernama) -- The 97 per cent increase in the cost-of-living allowance (COLA) for overseas students will help ease their financial burden in their daily life, Open University of Malaysia (OUM) Senior Vice-President Prof Datuk Dr Ansary Ahmed said today. He said the increase was certainly needed by the students as many of them were living below the poverty line in their respective locations abroad. This has forced some of them to take up part-time jobs to supplement their allowance, he said when commenting on the proposal contained in the 2008 Budget which was unveiled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he tabled the budget in the Dewan Rakyat today. Abdullah had, among other things, announced that effective September 2007, COLA for students in the
At present, the institutions of higher learning and training colleges are placed under several ministries, he said. Universiti Malaya (UM) Vice-Chancellor Datuk Rafiah Salim said the tax benefits given for post-graduate studies reflect the government's seriousness on education. On the increase in the Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships, she said: "The increase in numbers and the amount is welcomed as the cost of living is quite high and the students would be able to live more comfortably. But I would also like to remind the students to use their funds wisely and to buy new computers instead of buying the latest handphones in the market." Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Vice-Chancellor Datuk Seri Prof Dr Ibrahim Abu Shah stated that the allocation for UiTM would be fully utilised on research and development as well as in improving the current facilities.