Huazong praises PM for being forthright in tabling the revised budget 2023


KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) has praised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for being forthright in tabling the revised Budget 2023, in Parliament on Friday.

Its President Tan Sri T.C Goh also hoped the present government will continue to adopt a high degree of transparency in governing the nation and its finance, and to lead the people and businesses to combat inflation, and to stimulate the economy to achieve speedy economic recovery.

He expressed concern that, for the 25th year, this year, our nation continued to have a deficit budget. In other words, we have been experiencing deficit budgets over one third of the last 60 years since our independence. Besides this, the size of the deficit budget also kept expanding, and so is our national debt.

“Hence, the government must muster strong political will to strive to break even, and eventually to come up with a surplus budget for the nation!” he said.

Goh expressed this in a statement issued on Friday, while commenting on the Malaysia Madani Budget 2023 tabled by the Prime Minister in Parliament, on Friday.

He especially commended the Prime Minister for his candid attitude in presenting the revised Budget 2023, and not attempting to fool the people with some fancy or astonishing figures.

He said, such a candid and courageous attitude is praiseworthy.

He also welcomed Anwar’s declaration that the government aimed to narrow the deficit to 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year from 5.6% last year. The gap was 5.5% in 2022, and the government plans to trim it to 3.2% of GDP by 2025. Anwar also said Malaysia’s GDP is poised to record a growth of approximately 4.5 per cent in 2023, backed by the nation’s sound macroeconomic fundamentals, robust domestic demand coupled with the effective implementation of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

While noting that the national debt will reach RM1.2 trillion, or more than 60 percent of gross domestic product for this year, Anwar cautioned that if we calculate the debt and liabilities, we can reach RM1.5 trillion or 81 percent of GDP. He also reminded the people that for the past 25 years, the government has been spending in deficit, hence the reason why the national debt continues to increase.

Meanwhile, Goh who is also President of The Federation of Chinese Associations (FCAS) expressed concern over continuous imbalance in Budget 2023 themed ‘Developing Malaysia Madani’ which involves an allocation of RM388.1 billion, citing the huge allocation for operating expenditure (opex) amounting to RM289.1 billion or 74.88% of the revised federal budget, and RM 99 billion for development expenditure including RM2 billion in contingency savings.

He hoped the government would be more prudent with its financial management, after this.

He also commended the government for its decision not to reintroduce the goods and services tax (GST) amidst spiralling inflation, so as not to further burden the people, a majority of whom are already struggling to stay afloat.

He also welcomed and supported the government’s move to reduce taxation on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) first RM150,000 income to 15% from 17% previously, while the personal income tax rate will be lowered by two percentage points for those earning RM100,000 and below annually. He said this was in line with Huazong’s recent proposals on Budget 2023.

“We also welcome the government’s continuous support for the MSMEs by providing loan facilities and financing guarantees with a total value of up to RM40 billion. We hope the government could be more flexible with the requirements for the application, besides imposing a low interest rate or waiving it,” he said.

He was also glad to note that the Ministry of Education (MoE) was one of the two ministries given the lion’s share of the revised budget. He hoped it would result in a more balanced development of the national education system, which includes Chinese education, such as to build more Chinese primary schools, or providing necessary funding for their relocation, maintenance and repair, and hiring of teachers etc. He also hoped the government could continue to give due attention to the development of Chinese secondary schools, Chinese independent schools and Chinese community run education institutions.

“We also welcome the government’s allocation of RM50 million for the maintenance and repair of all non-Muslim houses of worship, and another RM104 million for the development of Chinese new villages. We hope the allocation could be adjusted or increased accordingly, when required,” he added.

He also supported the government for rolling out a host of living allowances and welfare aids for the people. They include government to credit RM500 to the accounts of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors who have less than RM10,000 in their Account 1, a 20% discount for National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) borrowers for three months starting March 1, tax relief limit on medical treatment expenses will be increased from RM8,000 to RM10,000, free nutritious food for the students, a one-off e-cash credit of RM200 each for youths aged between 18 and 20 years old, My50 monthly LRT pass for the benefit of nearly 180,000 users in the urban communities who commute to work, incentives for childcare, etc.

Goh acknowledged that, overall, the revised federal budget was a comprehensive and acceptable one which covers all strata of Malaysian society.

He also hoped the government could continue to step up efforts to boost its financial management, to work closely with the private sector to stimulate and accelerate economic recovery, post pandemic.