Good handouts before election
Comment By Baradan Kuppusamy
The Prime Minister is hoping to draw support with the goodies promised under the Budget as the battle in the next general election looms large.
THE Budget 2012 announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Parliament on Friday specifically targets selected groups like civil servants, retired military personnel, other pensioners, students, policemen and even taxi drivers who are all crucial to Barisan Nasional in the coming general election.
They form a large chunk of Malaysian voters and with their support, Najib is hoping to ride the 13th general election in style in the “do or die” battle ahead.
Najib has spread out the budget’s largesse with care across the political spectrum, making every ringgit count and for the first time, also to Chinese, Tamil, mission and madrasah schools to upgrade their facilities.
Najib hopes to shore up support from these groups or win back some that were lost to the Pakatan Rakyat coalition which has been promising assistance to marginalised communities with its alternative budget as read out by its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at a press conference three days earlier.
The Treasury-bursting Budget is generous with civil servants about 1.3 million of them who are expected to be the backbone of support for Barisan Nasional.
(See Next: The best civil servants in the world – MALAYSIA BOLEH)
They get the retirement age raised to 60, a half-month bonus or RM500 minimum, and a new salary scheme that would see quick promotion and wage rise.
The populist measure to abolish school fees, although small by middle-class standards, would be a big, annual sum for the poor and well received. A universal and free education is the dream of most democracies.
In addition, RM100 to each student from Year 1 to Form 5 and a RM200 book voucher for students in Form Six and tertiary institutions would bring cheer to many school goers living in the lower income brackets.
For the first time too, the Government is specially addressing Tamil, Chinese and madrasah schools with RM100mil each to upgrade facilities.
Whereas help was doled out on an ad-hoc basis before, now these schools can plan and upgrade their facilities, classrooms and other amenities with money available. This allocation buys both MIC and MCA bragging rights with the people.
Business, environment and other special groups, usually targeted under previous budgets, were largely ignored or given token assistance.
The assistance given to taxi drivers is extraordinary and come several months after those in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor gathered and met Anwar at the Civic Centre here to highlight their plight.
Anwar had promised them a better deal when Pakatan Rakyat comes to power.
In this budget, Najib is seeking to wean taxi drivers off from Pakatan Rakyat. The budget has many goodies for them, abolishing exercise duties and sale tax for their taxis.
Additionally, road tax has been abolished and a payment of RM3,000 announced for disposing of old taxies. BSN will also have cheap loans at 2% interest for acquiring new taxis.
Taxi drivers are important during general election as they are used to ferry voters to and from polling booths by both coalitions. Having them behind you is opportune. Besides, they also talk with passengers and woo them.
Rural Malaysia, especially Sabah and Sarawak, will get the lion’s share of the rural allocation of RM5bil to upgrade basic facilities, provide clean water and electricity, which alone has been given RM3.2bil.
It is a recognition that the rural vote in Sabah and Sarawak saved Barisan in 2008 and heavy emphasis is given to them to keep the rural votes.
Najib is laying out the red carpet to the rural voters, even the estates have been included this time with a RM100mil allocation for clean water supply. No longer do they have to depend on dirty ponds for their water supply.
Najib’s emphasis is on the Barisan mainstay groups rural folk, civil servants, retired military personnel and others to shore up support for the ruling coalition.
Najib hopes to undercut the Pakatan appeal with these populist measures in the big battle that is shaping up soon.
About 60,000 long neglected armed forces retirees also stand to benefit with a one-off RM3,000 payment in “recognition of their sacrifices” but this is really to shore up support after the “Mohamed Sabu” debacle when the PAS deputy president likened soldiers and police as stooges of the colonial regime.
The RM300mil to construct a new outpatient wing is another well-earned populist measure because many people, usually the poor and retirees, flock to the overcrowded outpatient clinics in HKL.
The crucial Felda voters are also not left out with its listing in the offing that would create, in Najib’s word, durian runtuh for settlers.
With these selective populists’ measures, Najib is preparing the political ground to make it favourable for a general election expected to be called sometime early next year.
His forecast for 2012 growth is on the high side of 5% to 6% because the world, on which we depend to sell our products, is in a downturn and probably heading for a recession.
But Najib is optimistic that domestic demand and commodities export will keep Malaysia afloat.
The Budget then is the last ace in Najib’s sleeve before he faces the people and he has assiduously spread the available cash to people who matter for the ruling coalition civil servants, retirees, armed forces staff, the rural folks, a big chunk of Malaysia expected to deliver when the time comes.
Goodies with polls in mind
On The Beat By Wong Chun Wai
The challenge would be to take advantage of the momentum that now favours the ruling coalition.
IT’S clear that Budget 2012, which was unveiled by the Prime Minister last week, is the strongest build-up to the next general election.
More money was given to civil servants and pensioners, and there were plans to list the Felda Global Group’s commercial unit, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Sdn Bhd, on Bursa Malaysia, which would bring the settlers a windfall. All of this would surely lock in a huge chunk of voters.
There was more – the government offered a one-off RM500 cash handout to households with a monthly income of RM3,000 and below, as well as a RM100 cash aid for primary and secondary pupils (Year 1 to Form 5) and RM200 book vouchers for students.
Ex-members of the special constabulary and auxiliary police as well as widows and widowers would also receive a one-off payment of RM3,000.
The list was impressively long. Everyone got something, in the words of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. In his parting shot, he reminded the Opposition bench that they too would get better allowances starting in January.
But to many analysts, the Budget was tilted in favour of the rural heartland wherein lies the traditional base of Umno and the votes would go strongly to the Barisan Nasional.
The urban middle class isn’t likely to be happy with Budget 2012. While there were provisions that would benefit the middle class, such as the first-time home scheme, tax exemption for contributions to missionary schools and houses of worship and tax incentives for private schools, they do not see direct benefits.
The middle class, which makes up the 2.4 million taxpayers and carries the burden for 27 million people in the country, deserves better.
Although there are 6.4 million registered taxpayers, only 2.4 million are paying up. The rest are ineligible because they are either retired, have stopped working or have incomes below the taxable bracket.
Until the Government has the political courage to impose the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which would be a broad-based consumption tax, there is no possibility of a reduction in personal and corporate taxes.
It would have been unrealistic to expect any such tax reduction, though, but increase in EPF contributions from employers for workers earning more than RM5,000 could have at least brought some cheer to the middle class.
Be that as it may, the middle class must not forget the benefits that they enjoy and which are sometimes taken for granted, such as subsidies for petrol and essential food items, for instance. Also, keeping the sin taxes at current levels would certainly benefit those who need the occasional mug of beer or a pack of cigarettes.
The general consensus is that the Budget has created a feel good factor, and even opposition politicians have conceded this. It is a strong follow-up to the slew of political reforms announced by Najib last month.
The question now is when the Barisan will call for the polls. The challenge would be to take advantage of the momentum that now favours the ruling coalition, especially with surveys showing that Malay voters have returned to the Barisan.
It has been said that one reason why PAS decided to abandon its welfare state plan in favour of an Islamic state was because the party found its share of the Malay votes sliding drastically. Even Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim came out to support the implementation of hudud laws, with an eye on Muslim votes.
The remarks made by PAS deputy president Mohamed Sabu, describing communist leaders as freedom fighters, also scarred the party badly.
There is speculation of a November polls but this writer does not think it will happen. Between Nov 14 and Dec 14, school halls have been booked for the SPM exams and many teachers will be acting as exam invigilators, not as election officials.
The PM is also scheduled to perform his Haj, along with 28,000 Malaysian Muslims, and would be away from November. The last chartered flight out of Mecca is Dec 12.
The much speculated Nov 11 date, which is said to be Najib’s favourite number, also does not hold water or make much political sense as it is a Friday, which is hardly the best day for polls.
From Nov 29 until Dec 3, the Umno general assembly will be held in Kuala Lumpur. Here, the Umno president would make the rallying call to the troops, remind them to close ranks, let him have the mandate to choose the candidates and tell them that losing is not an option.
The monsoon season, from the end of November until end of January, which hits the east coast states every year is also a factor that needs to be considered when setting the date for elections.
Many Malaysians would also be away at this time, taking advantage of the holiday season to clear their leave and to spend time with their families. No one would be in the mood to listen to politicians.
Finally, in January the Barisan would have its final opportunity to win over Chinese voters, many of whom still favour the opposition. Chinese New Year will be on Jan 23 and in the weeks before the celebrations, we can expect the political drums to be louder.
The window period for the polls could be between March and May. Given the uncertainties of the global economy and uncontrolled external forces, Najib has little time left to take advantage of the feel good factors.
Will you take the RM100?
Why Not By Wong Sai Wan , October 14, 2011
The 2012 Budget offered quite a number of cash handouts – a first in Malaysian history – and questions are already being asked about who deserves the financial aid.
TWO working mothers looked at each other when told that their two school-going children will each get RM100 from the Government next year under the 2012 Budget.
Almost together, the women, both professionals, said: “What can you get with RM100 these days.”
When told that if they had college-going kids, they would also be entitled to a book voucher of RM200 per child, they gave the bearer of the news the same “big deal” look.
This conversation was related by a friend who was appalled by the attitude of his two colleagues towards the welfare assistance that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced last Friday.
I was not surprised by the reaction because I too heard similar comment from my friends.
After all, we are all in the same boat – we are all urban middle-class people who always claim that “we get nothing from the Government”.
The middle-class always feel that they have to bear the brunt of any taxation decision, including having to pay more than our Singaporean cousins for a not so fancy car.
They argue that they are among the 1.7 million out of the over 10 million workforce who pay income tax and, in some cases, pay more than their bosses, who get away by using all sorts of tax avoidance tactics.
The middle-class now cites Warren Buffett’s recent statement to justify the need to tax the rich.
As one of the world’s richest men, he acknowledged that his secretary paid more taxes than he did. (He said this when trying to justify US President Barack Obama’s plan to tax wealthy Americans.)
Buffet is the third richest man in the world and is worth US$47bil (RM147bil) at last count.
Some are even arguing for the immediate imposition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) so that the personal income tax could be reduced.
The middle-class claims that the GST is a consumption tax that means one is only taxed if one buys something.
So if you are frugal as Buffett, who does not buy much for himself, then you will pay minimal tax.
After having to go through the 117 paragraphs of Najib’s speech twice, I feel that there are many things for everyone, even the middle-class.
Education is now absolutely free and according to the PM there is not supposed to be any other fees that are usually collected at the beginning of each term.
Textbooks have been free for quite a number of years thus the only expenditure at the start of school is for uniforms, shoes, exercise books and stationery.
The RM100 aid will not cover all of this but according to my better half it should cover one set of uniform (about RM60), a pair of shoes (RM30) and two pairs of socks (RM10).
While we middle-class urban folks may thumb our noses at the RM100, it is still a reasonable sum.
At the beginning of a school year, it becomes a useful amount, especially to the office boys, clerks, village folk or those living in the longhouses of Sarawak.
To them it is a lot of money. It will work out to be quite a sum if a family has three or more kids.
But there is so much more in the Budget.
There is the RM450mil women and children hospital to be built near the KL Hospital (HKL) and by many accounts it will be a fantastic facility.
Many middle-class families will not even think of going to a government hospital.
They would rather pay thousands of ringgit to seek treatment at expensive private hospitals, which we all presume provide better treatment.
A rich friend of mine called me about three months ago and insisted that we publish his account at the HKL where he sought treatment when his ulcer perforated.
Carl Chow, who suffered a stroke a few years ago, has been in and out of private hospitals for various ailments and considers himself an expert on hospitals.
“The service, treatment and care I received from the moment I was admitted have opened my eyes. It was much better than my regular private hospital, which was more interested in my wallet than my well-being,” he said.
Carl told me that from now on he will seek treatment for all his ailments at the HKL.
“It’s a matter of perspective and once I went through what I did, HKL is the best hospital in the country,” said Carl.
However, I leave the final word on the Budget goodies to the Prime Minister who remarked: “For those who can afford it, you can decide not to accept the money.”
So will you take the RM100?
> Executive editor Wong Sai Wan has a feeling that the school cash aid and the book allowance will become an annual affair.
The best civil servants in the world-MALAYSIA BOLEH
Best bloated civil service
* With 1.3 million civil servants to a population of 26 million, Malaysia has one of the highest civil servants-to-population ratio in the world by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development standards.
* In 2009, Malaysia’s civil servants-to-population ratio was the highest in Asia Pacific. The ratio was 4.68 per cent, compared to Singapore’s 1.5 per cent, Indonesia’s 1.79 per cent, Korea’s 1.85 per cent and Thailand’s 2.06 per cent all of which have less than half our ratio.
Best way to bleed a budget dry
* Much of the budget (2011) continues to go into operating a bloated civil service. As much as three quarters of the national budget is spent on paying salaries and other benefits to over 1.3 million civil servants.
* A post-2011 Budget dialogue highlighted the massive amount (35 per cent of the total RM162.8 billion operating expenditure) to be spent on emoluments, pensions and gratuities of civil servants. A panelist, Ministry of Finance budget division director Datuk Dr Rahmat Bivi Yusuff admitted that there is a need to trim the civil service to reduce the budget deficit.
Best way to bankrupt this nation
* Whilst it is the growing trend of many countries to reduce their civil service, the PM’s Department in particular, has done the opposite. It more than doubled its number of civil servants from 21,000 to 43,554 this year. In stark contrast, the White House employs only 1,888 staff.
* The White House budget is US$394 million for 2011. The PM’s Department has been allocated a whopping RM18.14 billion for the year 2011, almost double the RM10.2 billion 2010.
* Pemandu, which stands for Performance, Management and Delivery Unit, was set up last year under the Najib administration as one of the pillars in his Government Transformation Plan… is a massive drain on resources. In a span of two months the government spent RM20 million just to pay 50 consultants,.
Best contradiction of 1Malaysia
* As at 31 December 2009, the racial breakdown of the Malaysian civil service comprising 1,247,894 employees was as follows: Malay (78.2 per cent); Other Bumiputras (7.7 per cent); Chinese (5.8 per cent), Indian (4.0 per cent); and Others (4.2 per cent).
* “This is the worst multi-racial composition of the government service, with the lowest Chinese and Indian representation in the public service in Malaysia’s 53-year history. This is clearly seen from the three sets of comparative figures of the racial breakdown of the civil service before the NEP (1971) and as compared to Dec. 2009 – Malays (60.80 per cent and 78.2 per cent); Chinese (20.2% and 5.8 per cent); Indians (17.4 per cent and 4.0 per cent); and Others (1.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent).
Best in corruption
* Last year two out of five civil servants were deemed corrupt by Cuepacs. It was described as a worrying trend that needed to be tackled urgently.
* Cuepacs President Omar Osman revealed that a total of 418,200 or 41 per cent of the 1.2 million civil servants in the country were suspected to be involved in corruption last year (Bernama, 2 June 2010).
Best “dumping ground”
Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz, a former state assembly member of Pahang who is a member of Umno and who uses the pen-name Sakmongkol AK47, in his blog entry wrote: “Government service shouldn’t be treated as a dumping ground for academic rejects and mediocre material. Let’s demand a certain high standard and ensure we bring in talent that supports the demand for high standards.
“What has the government done to improve the efficiency and competence of government servants? There isn’t really competition there if the service is dominated by one race. There isn’t sufficient quality if the entry-level qualifications are so-so.
“Yet each year, to placate civil servants, the PM will appear on TV to say, we honour our civil servants because they have done a good job, blah blah. Which is not entirely true. The service is slow, the quality of officers is questionable.”
But Umno likes Muhyiddin’s make-believe. The next General Elections must be close at hand. Civil servants are made to believe that Umno is their (political) paymaster and they owe it to Umno. The party’s leaders would do or say anything to convince the government servant of this, even praising them as “the best civil servants in the world”!
S’pore’s Budget 2011 made Malaysian’s blood boil!
Makes my blood boils! WAKE UP!!!
I was in Spore when their 2011 budget was tabled. There were two items that impressed me most ….. can’t remember all:
Growth and share concept: Spore govt will gives away cash amounting to SGD800.00 to individuals and between SGD5,000.00 – 2,000.00 per household. The estimated per household should average more than SGD3,000.00 or about RM10,000.00!!
How can they afford this? Simple– the Spore govt owns all public utilities eg Electricity, water, MRT and investment arms like Tumasek and sovereign funds. Profits from these organisations are distributed back to their citizens, with the rich getting minimal and the lower income group getting the larger share.
How does that compare with BN govt? Cronies get richer by the days and subsidies are cut. Yes, for political expediencies the PM givesaway RM200 to selected constituents for their votes!! Big joke!!
Employers CPF contributions are increased to ensure workers can have more money when they retire.
What goodies do we have for our 2011 budget? Spend more on arms and patrol crafts that costs RM 1 Billion EACH! Computers procured at RM 40,000 EACH, Costs overrun on almost all govt projects.
You are right (above message)…..the following is the report of their 2011 Budget.
Makes me mad as hell…..with the imbeciles over here, both out & within government!!!
…..AND YES, (as the Singaporeans may accuse me of)…..I AM JEALOUS!!!!…..andI AM SICK OF OUR OWN INCOMPETENCE & THE REFUSAL TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT COMPETITION BASED ON MERIT IS STILL THE ROUTE TO DEVELOPMENT & WEALTH…..in a Laissez Faire Capitalist Society.
What do you expect when we have a bunch of idiots running this country compared to S’pore who have the brains and that is why S’pore is developed and successful. As long as this bunch of idiots are still around Malaysia will continue to be where it started. They only know how to talk and bad mouth about others and refuse to accept their mistakes. This is BN so come the next election throw them out…….don’t worry if Pakatan can run this country because when the Egyptian went to the street to throw their President out they don’t even know what their future lies for them and whether if there is a leader to replace their current President. Their objective was to get rid of him and they stay focus…….in Malaysia we have capable leaders in Pakatan to rule this country so there is nothing to be afraid of voting them into power.. We have nothing to lose but more to gain because after 53 years – enough is enough…do it for the future generations. With BN there is no future because these idiots only look after their own future. Nothing for you and me, all Malaysians, WAKE UP !!!!
Singapore Budget goodies unveiled
By Angela Lim – February 18th, 2011
Singaporeans will receive a total of S$6.6 billion of benefits in the 2011 Singapore Budget announced by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Friday.
$3.2 billion Grow and Share Package: Theaverage Singaporean household will receive S$3,500 from this year’s Budget.This will come from the S$3..2 billion to be spent on the “Grow and Share Package” and S$3.4 billion in longer-term Social Investments for households this year.
All adult Singaporeans will also receive Growth Dividends to share the fruits of last year’s exceptional economic growth. The majority of Singaporeans – 80% – will get $600 to $800 each.
CPF rate revision: The Government will raise the employer contribution rate to CPF accounts by another 0.5 percentage points, from 15.5% to 16%, which will restore the total contribution, rate to 36%. The additional 0.5% will go into the Special Account.
The Government will also revise the CPF salary ceiling from $4,500 to $5,000 per month to keep pace with income growth in recent years. This will align the salary ceiling back to the 80th percentile income, and help middle-income Singaporeans.
Radio and TV licence fees removed permanently: The annual licence fee of S$110.00 for televisions and S$27.00 for vehicle radios will be removed with immediate effect. Those who have not paid this year’s fees will not have to make the payment, while a refund will be given to those who have already paid.
Mr Tharman said that’s because the fees are losing their relevance. He said televisions are no longer limited to middle and higher-income groups, with 99 per cent of lower-income households owning them today.
Tax cuts: Singaporeans will receive a personal income tax rebate of 20% for individual resident taxpayers for YA 2011. The rebate will be capped at $2,000.00 Taxes will be reduced significantly for middle and upper-middle income families. Marginal tax rates will be reduced for first S$120,000.00 of chargeable income.
Levy increase for foreign workers: The Government will also introduce more levy increases on foreign workers for all sectors this year. Most of the additional measures will be phased in at six-monthly intervals, starting only from 1 January 2012, and extending till 1 July 2013, one year beyond the previous schedule.
S$10 billion home upgrading: $10 billion will be spent to upgrade homes and rejuvenate estates over the next 10 years. This is a major effort to preserve the value of HDB flats and will go towards the Home Improvement Programme (HIP), Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) and Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP), it will invest up to $55,000.00 per flat.
Low-income groups will also receive additional housing subsidies to better afford their homes. The Government will set aside S$175 million each year for the new Special CPF Housing Grant to help the bottom 50% Singapore households own their homes.
For more details, refer to the speech summary below or read the full transcript here.
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