Sin Chew Daily
The much anticipated 2022 Budget was finally unveiled, with an unprecedented allocation of RM332.1 billion.
The country has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic over the past two years. As a result, the national economy has become anemic while Malaysians suffer drastically reduced incomes.
As such, the 2022 Budget comes as a timely relief for the rakyat, offering the much needed assistance and lessening their daily financial burdens through the difficult times.
Prime minister Ismail Sabri promised Malaysians that the 2022 Budget would give people a big “wow”, just on the eve of the Budget’s tabling. According to him, everyone would benefit from the Budget!
Although not everyone was actually thrilled after the Budget was tabled, we cannot deny that this Budget is set to benefit many Malaysians and much of the feedback has been taken into account in its drafting.
The theme of the 2022 Budget is “Keluarga Malaysia, Makmur Sejahtera” with three main axes: strengthening the recovery, building resiliency and driving reforms. The government will step up its assistance to the people to benefit students, teachers, low-income individuals and underprivileged communities.
Indeed, compared to previous assistance packages, both the intensity and scope have increased this time and more people will benefit from it.
Although the assistance may not completely address the woes of the beneficiaries, at least it will relieve part of their economic stress to a certain extent.
The 2022 Budget has not neglected companies badly hit by the pandemic, and will provide them all sorts of assistance, including wage allowances.
As for Chinese language education, 1,800 Chinese and Tamil primary schools in the country will be allocated RM120 million. Unfortunately, there has been no mention of Chinese national-type secondary schools, independent high schools and private universities.
Additionally, the finance minister also did not elaborate whether the government would continue to pay the utility bills of schools not exceeding RM5,000 a month.
Meanwhile, as this is going to be another expansionary budget that will bring the budgetary deficit to 6% of the country’s GDP, many have voiced their concerns. That said, we may need to adopt some unconventional measures during such unusual times in order to propel the economy and revive the market at a time the national economy is severely beaten by the pandemic.
While expanding the fiscal expenditure, the government also needs to expand its sources of revenue. Because of that, some new taxes have been introduced, including the prosperity tax, which is introduced in this country for the very first time. Many are worried that the new tax will erode the confidence of foreign investors.
Anyway, this is not a one-off tax and is imposed chiefly to finance the massive expenditure triggered by the pandemic. Hopefully it will not excessively impact the country.
Generally speaking, the 2022 Budget is attempting to satisfy the needs of all quarters and benefit a broader segment of the society, and is one that benefits the people badly hit by the pandemic.
Nevertheless, there is not much “wow” factor in the Budget but more of an extension to the measures introduced earlier.
By the way, increasing the quantum of assistance and expanding the expenditure infinitely will never be a sustainable long-term solution. The government needs to introduce more proactive strategies to jumpstart the country’s economy, increase the revenue and cut down unnecessary expenses in a bid to maintain the country’s fiscal health and stability.