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Budget 2013 will be people-friendly – Najib

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All eyes are now on Putrajaya as Budget 2013 will be tabled this afternoon by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. It is expected to see a continuation of the affirmative policies he introduced three years ago to further enhance the quality of life of Malaysians, according to officials familiar with its formulation.

The Budget will be “mildly expansionary but fiscally responsible”, they said, to ensure sustainable growth and social progress while exercising prudent financial management.

The federal Government expenditure is estimated at RM229 billion in 2012 and this means that next year’s spending will be slightly higher to cater for various measures aimed at enhancing the well-being of the rakyat.

These include more affordable housing, improved public transportation, public safety, educational and training facilities, and better business and investment opportunities.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, has already indicated that Budget 2013 will be people-friendly.

His previous budgets have all contributed to taking Malaysia closer towards realising Vision 2020, while at the same time ensuring that the benefits would reach all sections of the population.

In his 2012 budget, he had announced cash handouts and other benefits for ordinary Malaysians, while also shoring up the country’s finances and reining in the budget deficit at a time of global economic uncertainty.

This approach is likely to be continued this year, with additional emphasis on easing the cost of living, improving healthcare, developing human capital and expanding basic infrastructure in under-developed areas, especially Sabah and Sarawak.

The officials said that Najib would address the concerns of the tax-paying urban middle-class, whose monthly incomes ranged from RM5,000 to RM10,000.

We can also expect measures to support the rural poor, providing a cushion against the global economic uncertainty.

With Malaysia’s economy growing strongly at 5.4 per cent, the Government is expected to focus on increasing productivity and innovation to continue Malaysia’s strong position, especially in the construction, manufacturing and services sectors.

Given the success of the local capital market in the big initial public offerings (IPOs) this year and the significant role undertaken by Malaysia in the issuance of sukuk bonds, the Government is expected to intensify incentives for the capital market as an enabler of economic growth.

On the issue of prudent financial management, the officials said the Government remained committed towards further lowering the fiscal deficit from 4.5 per cent this year to 4.0 per cent in 2013 and 3.0 per cent by 2015.

They said this would be achieved through better financial management, including reducing wastage and channelling subsidies to the right groups instead of blanket subsidies.

Reducing the deficit is not expected to be a problem as long as the economy remains resilient against the impact of a harsh external environment.

With Najib successfully steering the country towards high-income status, expectations are running high. And after the success of Budget 2012, both the public and industry are looking forward to another landmark budget this year. – The Choice