Budget 2015 Promise Tracker: Have They Been Delivered?
The year 2015 has been a roller coaster ride in Malaysia with various issues debated throughout the year. From GST to the weakening Ringgit and from the rising cost of living to the hike in toll prices, the list just goes on. So much so that a lot of us have forgotten about the promises made in the last budget.
Now with the Malaysia Budget 2016 ready to be tabled on October 23, let us take a look back at how the allocations made in Budget 2015 have been fulfilled so far:
As announced in the Budget 2015, the Government made BR1M payments for this year in three stages. The first stage of the payments was on January 15 and February 12 (for late applicants), the second stage of payments was on May 28 and the third stage payments was on September 21. As for the Death Benefit Scheme (SKK), to date, more than 16,000 SKK claims have been approved.
Though based on our budget survey, more than 95% of recipients said that it wasn’t enough to cover their expenses.
2. Entrepreneurship incentives
Chinese businesses seeking loans from the RM50 million set aside for Chinese small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under Budget 2015 could apply for soft loans since June this year. Each SME could borrow RM25,000 to RM50,000, depending on the nature of business. The loans offer 4% interest rate, would be a solution for most SMEs.
So far, RM26.6 million had been loaned to 124 SMEs.
3. No visa for Chinese tourists
Tourism sector makes the second largest contribution in Malaysia’s economic growth with tourists from China being the main contributors.
The tourists are estimated to have contributed up to RM21.6bil to the shopping industry in 2014. A total of 1.4 million Chinese tourists were recorded in 2014, a drop from two million in 2013. Malaysia recorded a 27% drop in Chinese tourists in the first three months of 2015.
There are a number of reasons why we saw a drop in Chinese tourists, and one step the Government has taken to boost tourism from China is by making it easier to visit Malaysia.
In Budget 2015, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that Chinese tourists no longer need to pay RM30 for visas to enter Malaysia with the fee waiver coming into effect on February 15. The waiver, implemented at all overseas Malaysian embassies that issue visas to Chinese nationals, will run until the end of 2015.
This initiative was aimed at repositioning Malaysia’s competitiveness in the tourism sector as Thailand and Indonesia had abolished visa for their Chinese tourists. For the first three months of 2015, we only received 350,000 Chinese tourists, whereas Thailand had two million tourists.
4. Youth Housing Scheme
The Youth Housing Scheme (YHS) was officially launched on October 1. The YHS, announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak under Budget 2015 is a scheme for married youths with a combined household income of no more than RM10,000 and is aimed at helping them own their first home.
More than 200 out of about 500 applications for the Youth Housing Scheme have been approved since October 16. The scheme enables young couples to have their first residential property. As of September 30, a total of 273 loans amounting to RM69.25 million have been approved under the scheme since its soft launch in July this year.
5. Flood relief financial aid
A total of 100,835 heads of households had received compassionate financial aid of RM500 per person in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang. In Kelantan, an overall 69,770 flood victims received RM34.8 million, in Terengganu 12,348 victims received RM6.22 million and in Pahang 21,627 victims received RM10.8 million.
6. Klinik 1Malaysia
Due to the rising healthcare costs with additional Goods and Services Tax of 6% on certain medication, the Government had made allocation to build 30 more Klinik 1Malaysia nationwide. These additional clinics would make the total number of 1Malaysia clinic to come up to 290.
However, currently, there are only 195 clinics in operation around the country. There are 95 more clinics to be built before the year ends.
Klinik 1Malaysia is crucial, especially for the low-income group as they only charge RM1 for citizens, and RM15 for non-citizens.
While the above allocations have been fulfilled or on their way to being fulfilled, there is still a lot of work to be done to fulfil the country’s objectives of elevating the Bottom 40 households to middle-income, reduce fiscal deficit and ultimately, achieve high-income nation status by 2020.
With more allocations set out to be heard on October 23, let’s see how they will fare.