PUTRAJAYA: The Government’s recalibrated Budget 2016 reinforces its pledge to look after the people in times of economic challenges.
The adjustments – reflected in 11 measures to be undertaken – largely serve to cushion the impact of the increase in the cost of living.
In presenting the adjustments yesterday, the Prime Minister said the recalibration and restructuring of Budget 2016 centred on the need to ensure the economy remained on a strong growth trajectory and to protect and safeguard the welfare and wellbeing of the people.
“These measures are proactive, transparent and realistic, in tandem with the current global economic challenges,” Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said in his 46-minute address to a packed audience comprising ministers, senior civil servants, economic stakeholders, foreign missions and representatives of non-governmental organisations.
Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Irwan Serigar Abdullah and Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
Najib said the recalibration was within the range of initiatives and allocation of the Budget approved by Parliament last year, and emphasised that Malaysia was neither in economic nor technical recession.
He noted that other countries were also affected by the slowdown, with world trade anticipated to be moderate from 4.1% to 3.4% and economies such as the United States, Brazil and China expected to grow at a slower pace.
“This trend proves that we are not alone in facing the global economic challenges. Other countries too, are affected by the uncertainties,” he said, adding the drastic decline in world crude oil prices had a significant effect on the nation’s revenue.
Other currencies also affected are Brazil’s Real which depreciated by 23.2%, China’s yuan (-5.7%), Canadian dollar (-11.3%), Russian ruble (-29.3%) and Singapore dollar (-5.6%) against the US greenback.
“In fact, the ringgit is undervalued and does not reflect the true economic fundamentals. However, the ringgit is expected to better reflect the strength of the economy when the global financial market stabilises and oil prices recover to more reasonable levels,” said the Prime Minister.
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Malaysia can withstand oil shocks
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia can withstand sustained oil price decline to US$25 (RM105) per barrel.
According to secretary-general of Treasury Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, the various scenario analyses conducted by the Government showed that Malaysia would still be able to sustain its economic growth and its recalibrated Budget 2016 would remain on track as long as crude oil prices remain above US$25 per barrel.
He, however, acknowledges that if oil prices were to go any lower than that, there will be great challenges, not only for Malaysia, but also for the global economy.
“In our estimation (for Budget 2016 revision), we even went to US$25 per barrel and we find that the budget will still be intact … that is not a problem because we have a lot of measures in place,” Irwan said.
“But if it goes further down to US$20 or US$15 per barrel, it will be a world recession! Every oil-producing country will face a problem,” he told reporters at a forum after the Budget 2016 recalibration announcement here yesterday.
The Government had been forced to revise its Budget 2016 three months after tabling it in Parliament due to the continuous decline in global crude oil prices.
The recalibrated Budget 2016 saw the Government lowering its average-price assumption for Brent, which is the international oil benchmark, to US$30-US$35 per barrel, compared with US$48 per barrel under the original Budget 2016 when it was unveiled in October last year.
Under the recalibrated Budget 2016, the Government’s revenue is expected to decline by 3.5%-4.2% to RM216.3bil-RM217.9bil, compared with the originally estimated RM225.7bil, while its total spending (operating and development expenditure) will be cut by 3.0%-3.6% to RM255.7bil-RM257.2bil from the initially proposed RM265.2bil.
“Most of the forecasts by analysts and research institutes expect oil prices to average at US$30-US$40 per barrel this year. But we have taken a more conservative estimate of US$30-US$35 per barrel.
“If it goes below US$30 per barrel, we can still sustain economic growth; it won’t affect the budget that much, given the various mechanisms we have at hand,” Irwan said.
Brent crude was traded at around US$33.50 per barrel yesterday. Last week, prices of the commodity fell to a 13-year low of around US$28 per barrel.
Irwan said the Government was expecting additional income from various sources to act as “buffer” if oil prices declined further.
He pointed out that the Government had yet to add this additional income into its revenue projection for the revised Budget 2016.
Among the new measures expected to generate extra income for the Government were the sale of telecommunications spectrums and greater reinforcement to reduce leakages in duty-free islands such as Labuan.
As for managing its expenses, Irwan said the Government would continue to optimise and slash unnecessary spending to manage its operating expenditure; and prioritise high-impact projects and programmes for the country’s growth and people’s well-being, while postponing non-critical projects to manage its development expenditure.
“In terms of reprioritising our development expenditure, what we are going to do is to go further into project-implementation planning.
“There are some projects that will be shifted to beyond 2016 but some important projects that will have an impact on people such as rural roads, schools and hospitals will continue to be implemented,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said.
Wahid, together with Irwan and Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, were the three panellists at the forum yesterday.
Essentially, Wahid said, the Government would continue to pursue its overall fiscal consolidation targets.
On that note, the fiscal-deficit to gross-domestic-product (GDP) target for 2016 remained unchanged at 3.1% under the revised budget.
Malaysia’s GDP growth, however, had been revised to a narrower range of 4.0%-4.5% for this year, compared with 4.0%-5.0% under the original Budget 2016.
“We have detected moderation in domestic demand,” Zeti said. “The key to support domestic demand is to boost private consumption by putting money into the pockets of consumers through income transfers,” she added.
She pointed out that the newly introduced measure to allow employees’ EPF contribution to be reduced by 3% between March 2016 and December 2017 was one of the ways to boost consumer spending.
However, she stressed: “These measures are only temporary because retirement savings are important.”
By Cecilia Kok The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had on Thursday announced the revised Budget 2016 in the face of the fall in crude oil prices which has affected the government’s revenue.
The Prime Minister said the government revenue would be based on Brent crude oil at US$30 to US$35 per barrel when compared with the US$48 when it prepared the Budget 2016 last year.
He also said the economy was expected to grow at a slower pace of between 4% and 4.5% when compared with the earlier forecast of 4% to 5%.
Later, Ministry of Finance Secretary-General Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said the recalibrated Budget 2016 remains on track even if Brent crude oil prices were to deteriorate further to US$25 per barrel
Main points of Budget 2016 revision:
- Revised Budget 2016 will enable the government to save RM9bil
- Govt will maintain the Goods and Services Tax
- Fiscal deficit target at 3.1% of GDP
- Govt revenue to be based on Brent crude oil at US$30 to US$35 per barrel from US$48
- Trimmed GDP growth outlook for 2016 to 4%-4.5% from 4%-5%
- Govt debt to be reduced to 55% of GDP
- Govt will not peg the ringgit
- Govt to reduce EPF contributions for employees by 3% from March 2016 to December 2017, contributors from employers unchanged
Govt to give special tax relief of RM2,000 to individual tax payers earning RM8,000 a month for year of assessment 2015
- Malaysia to restructure foreign labour system
- Govt to give special tax exemption for some selected income groups
- Govt to allocated RM5bil for the Higher Education Fund (PTPTN)
- Govt will liberalise the control on import quotas or approved permits for eight agricultural produce for temporary period. It includes raw coffee beans, buffalo meat, beef and mutton
- To enhance the efficiency and amount of tax collection, govt will double compliance and auditing efforts on tax evaders
- Govt to give special consideration on relaxation for penalty on taxpayers to encourage them to come forward and declare their past years’ income. The tax arrears must be settled before 31 December 2016.
- For duty-free islands, to reduce leakages which resulted in revenue loss of nearly RM1bil, the government will restructure the selling channel of cigarettes and liquors limited to duty-free outlets licensed by the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD)
- The free duty treatment on imported vehicles in duty-free islands will be tightened.
- However, the restructuring of sales on cigarettes, liquors and vehicles will not affect the tourists and locals who are residing in these duty-free islands
- Govt will optimise the revenue from the telecommunication spectrum through a redistribution and bidding process which will be implemented soon