How Has Budget 2023 Turned Out So Far?

Budget 2023 retabling

Budget 2024 is just around the corner. While we are all excited to see what is in store for next year, let’s have a quick recap at what the previous Budget 2023 has brought us so far.

The original Budget 2023 was rather unique as it was first tabled in October 2022. However, the General Election took place soon after, resulting in a change of government. As such, it was announced that a new, revised Budget 2023 was tabled in February 2023.

The main focus of this revised Budget 2023 was an emphasis on driving an inclusive and sustainable economy, inspiring confidence with institutional and governance reforms, and facilitating social justice by reducing inequality. 

It was quite the historic reveal as the total budget was announced to be at RM388.1 billion, far surpassing the 2022 budget amount of RM332.1 billion. It even surpasses the previous Budget 2023 announcement in October 2022 which was at RM372.3 billion; making it one of the largest budgets passed by Parliament.

New taxes

One of the biggest pieces of news that came out of the 2023 Budget was the introduction of a new luxury goods tax. While this tax would not affect the average Malaysian much, it is intended to help increase govt revenue from high value purchases. So far details on the new luxury tax have been murky, as we were supposed to get more details on it in June. 

However, it has yet to be implemented.

An excise duty was also announced for e-cigarettes and vape liquids/gels that include nicotine. While a tax was imposed on vaping liquid, many saw this as a rather moderate approach. Further discussions regarding the excise duty for e-cigarettes and vape liquids/gels were also postponed as the government faced some rather stiff pushback.

Additionally, a new tax was proposed on unlisted shares disposable by companies starting in 2024.

Building up businesses

A good chunk of Budget 2023 was dedicated to helping businesses get back on track. One of the big wins for businesses includes a sizable reduction in corporate income tax on the first RM150,000 revenue from 17% to 15%.

Small hawkers and vendors were also a major focus as up to RM50 million was allocated to building and upgrading 3000 small hawker stalls and kiosks throughout the country. Additionally, up to RM176 million has also been set aside for upgrading premises and business facilities.

MSMEs and small businesses were also a key target for the budget, with the government promising up to RM40 billion in loan facilities and financing guarantees for SME entrepreneurs and up to RM1.7 billion in loan facilities for MSMEs and small vendors under agencies such as Bank Negara Malaysia, BSN and TEKUN. Bank Negara Malaysia intended to offer up to RM10 billion in loan funds to support business development.

So, how did it go? Well, things seem to be going decently well so far. As reported by the MalayMail, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick strongly believes that MSMEs are expected to continue to strengthen in 2023 to surpass the 2022 performance, referring to positive SME sentiment in the first half of 2023.

BNM also reported moderate growth in the economy during the second quarter (2.9%), despite slower external demand. Domestic demand was cited as being a key driver of growth, supported by private consumption and investment. Inflation also continued at a moderate rate, mostly being driven by selected services.

All in all, nothing too remarkable has taken place with the economy, though future growth and outlook seems to be slightly more optimistic.

Income tax adjustments

Budget 2023 also marked a reduction in tax rate for the brackets between RM35,000 and RM100,000, seeing a 2% drop. All three income brackets are present within this range, which means that a good percentage of Malaysians likely benefited from this reduction.

People within the income tax bracket above RM100,000 saw a 0.5% to 2% increase in tax rate. While this increase is targeted at Malaysia’s top earners, RM100,000 annual income is not too uncommon either.

The tax relief limit for medical expenses has been increased. This brings the total limit up to RM10,000, up from RM8,000. In addition to this, the scope of these medical expenses has been widened to cover neurodevelopmental disorders as well. These include things such as autism, down syndrome, and certain learning disorders.

There was also an expansion to the scope of tax relief for insurance premiums, life, or takaful to cover EPF contributions. This expansion increased the tax relief limit to RM3,000.

Empowering Women

For Budget 2023, one of the big talking points was the empowerment of women within the workforce. To this end, women were encouraged to continue pursuing their careers after maternity leave through generous incentives. One such incentive includes SOSCO issuing grants of up to 80% of total insured salary.

Additionally, the government also encouraged more nurseries/preschools to help working mothers care for their children. Tax incentives were offered to companies that provide nurseries at their offices. There was also an easing of registration and legalisation of unregistered nurseries to help facilitate the process.

PTPTN relief

Other big winners from Budget 2023 were the people who were looking to take out PTPTN loans. Said people were given a hefty 20% discount on repayments for three months starting from 1 March 2023. In addition to this, those who were earning RM1,800 per month or less received up to 6 months deferment on payments to assist with their financial situation.

What can we expect from Budget 2024

Budget 2023 shattered records with the largest allocation of funds in the history of Malaysia. However, good things don’t last forever, and research houses seem to believe that a focus will be put on fiscal tightening and the addressing of the country’s fiscal deficit.

As such, we may see the introduction of more taxes as the government seeks to alleviate said deficit and gain revenue. There is a possibility that talks of the goods and service tax (GST) will arise once more.

Despite this, we are hoping that Budget 2024 will offer solutions to controlling the prices of goods, reducing medical bills and improving the minimum wage, especially during these tumultuous economic times.

Read More: What You Can Expect To See In 2024

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