Budget 2019 Wishlist: What Malaysian Parents Expect From The New Government
Being a parent is no easy feat. Not only is it a full-time job, you also have to be prepared to spend a large chunk of your paycheck on your kids. From delivery costs, clothes, food, to education, childcare and toys, the current inflation rate and rising cost of living does not make it any easier for Malaysian adults who have a family.
Research shows that the cost of having and raising a child in Malaysia can range anywhere from RM400,000 to RM1.1million.
The Star also published an interesting article back in June 2015, where the writer said that the cost of having and raising a child can get you a Mercedes Benz S-Class, or a nice semi-detached house. The article also summarised how most Malaysians feel about having kids, “a strain”. That doesn’t come as a surprise, considering that even nurseries charge a minimum of RM400 a month these days.
As a parent, how do you expect the new government to help you out with reducing your burden? We speak to a few parents to find out their wishlist for the upcoming #Budget2019.
As a parent, what I would like to see in the 2019 Budget is more tax breaks. The government should consider giving continued exemption for mothers who return to the workforce after taking time off. This was actually in the last budget, and I hope they continue with this.
Aside from that, I’d like to see a reduction in overall income tax, and/or providing more tax breaks for children’s education expenses. Education is so expensive.
To add on to that, I think the government should continue to prioritise education. Invest more and reduce cutbacks on improving the education system, for example, the training of teachers, school facilities, and sports education. I also hope they continue to emphasize on the importance of information technology (IT), introduce coding in curriculum and go digital.
I just recently had one kid, and it’s already scaring me how much I have to spend and at the same save up for my child. I haven’t felt burdened yet, but I think the time will come. My main concern as a parent is education. I think schools are SO expensive nowadays, especially international schools. But parents also want quality education for their children. So I think the government should work on increasing the quality of public/government schools so parents will feel confident choosing a public school over international schools. I also don’t know if this is possible, but can they regulate the prices of international school so they don’t cost millions?
Aside from that, I think they should also make tertiary education more affordable and accessible to all. I read an article that said even fees in local universities can cost up to RM150,000. That means I need to start saving this instant – and that’s very stressful!
I honestly don’t know what the government can or cannot do. I mean, I can’t just ask them to make sure prices of milk go down right? There’s obviously a lot of process involved and it’s not a national priority. But basically, that’s my concern, everything is expensive – milk is expensive, perambulators are expensive, childcare, getting a maid – everything. Maybe what the government can do is give parents some incentive or targeted subsidies for parents with children.
I’d also really, really like to see our education quality improve. I always hear Malaysians complaining about how bad our public schools are. I don’t think they’re bad – I went to a public school myself – but I think they have a lot of room for improvement. I have a lot of friends complain that the English teachers in their kids’ schools can’t even speak English. That is unacceptable. So, increase funding to train teachers well, bring in more quality teachers, and make the syllabus more exciting.
As a young father, one thing I definitely want the government to implement paternity leave. Wait, that’s not really a financial input is it? (laughs) But that’s something I really want to see happen in Malaysia. Yes, my wife has help at home, but it will be different (in a good way) if I was there too. After all, I’m the father. Countries like Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland are also practicing this, and we’re way behind. A baby needs both its parents.
I also want the government to improve the quality of education in the country. Raise the quality of public schools to be equivalent to international schools. Expose the kids to more than just boring textbooks. For example, introduce them to money managing tips, investments, and retirement plans from a young age. Get them involved in more sports – as opposed to the usual running, long jump, high jump, and etc. Introduce them to music classes. I think kids need to be exposed to as many things as possible – so we won’t have someone who graduates with an SPM cert and still don’t know what they want to do with their lives.
Are you a parent too? Do your concerns resonate with Malaysian parents as above? Watch our discussion with a panel of experts on Budget 2019 below.