KOTA KINABALU: The Budget 2019 was announced during an uncertain global economic environment during which the world economy was slowing down with trade war between two big economies among others.
Dr Rafiq Idris, an Economist, Senior Lecturer from Financial Economics Program, Faculty of Business, Economics and Accountancy, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) stated that, from the positive aspect of the budget, he believed it was an inclusive, welfare care and growth stimulating budget.
He said it touched almost all the areas he raised in his pre budget commentary.
“The budget in general is inclusive because it is not specifically targeted to certain segment of the population such as by race or religion only,” he stressed.
Generally, Malaysians especially B40 and M40 would get benefit of different form through this fiscal exercise, according to him.
“The budget is a welfare budget. Just like the previous year budget announcement, despite many shortcomings, the current government manage to provide many interesting incentives and programs for Malaysians,” he opined.
“For instance, RM2.9 billion is allocated to help students from lower income groups in terms of food, text books and cash assistance.”
In addition, constructions and completions of affordable housing which involve allocation of close to RM1.5 billion for Program Perumahan Rakyat, Perumahan Penjawat Awam Malaysia, PR1MA and Syarikat Perumahan Nasional Bhd is to ensure the availability of supply are made.
“Moreover, the Bantuan Sara Hidup cash grants are also maintained with some improvement and this involve 4.1 million B40 households in the country,” he said adding that RM150 million allocated to minimize price differences in rural and urban areas in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak attempts to equalise price of critical goods.
“Apart from that, huge allocations were announced for both education and health sector for this budget.”
He said various allocations for SMEs announced such the allocation of RM4.5 billion for SME Loan Fund and RM2 billion allocated to encourage SMEs exporters to export through financing program via EXIM Bank commendable. ”
In addition, incentives to stimulate the expansion of industry 4.0 based activities can also be seen through various allocations mentioned in the budget,” Dr.Rafiq said.
“With regard to the benefit to Sabah’s economy, I would say this bigger allocation (compared to previous year) has the potential to further stimulate the growth in Sabah.”
Development expenditure allocation worth approximately RM5.09 billion for Sabah would indeed create multiplier effects for the economy, he added.
As mentioned, these development projects would include the construction and upgrading of water, electricity and road infrastructure, health and education facilities as well as the development of the respective economic corridors. However, no allocation for Sapangar port transhipment hub is being mentioned specifically in the budget.
“It is hoped that Sabah will get much bigger allocations in years to come as the state deserves bigger allocation.”
“To sum up, I hope the economy of Sabah will grow at least in a range of between 4-6% next year,” he said.
Despite the budget allocation, the ability to achieve higher growth would depend on numerous factors such as world economy development, fluctuation in exchange rate, good policies as well as efficient executions of the various projects among others.-By LSK/BNN