KUCHING: This Friday, Malaysians across the country will be turning their attention to Parliament as the Pakatan Harapan-led government tables its budget for next year.
The Borneo Post asked Sarawakians what’s on their wishlist for the budget and here’s what they said:
“We have been lagging so much behind in infrastructure development and provision of utilities. We need more funds to develop our digital connectivity, tourism and modernisation of agriculture.
It is high time for the federal government to express its sincerity in dealing with the issue of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), allocate a sizable quantum of budget for Sarawak.
The Budget should also have a special package of anti-poverty proposals for the lowest 20 per cent of the Malaysian population – regardless of race and religion.
Hopefully, we could reduce or narrow the gap between the rich and the poor in the long run which would augur well for national unity.
The outlook of the country’s economy for next year is expected to remain gloomy and challenging.
Sarawak’s business sector hopes that the revision of the minimum wage could be deferred, at least for Sarawak.
With the disparity of the costs of living with its counterparts in Peninsular Malaysia, any further increase in the minimum wage will reduce the competitiveness of our local businesses and increase cost of operations in this very challenging time.”
Sarawak Business Federation secretary-general
“Sarawak should be granted free port status to alleviate the high costs of import duties and levy, which is about 30 per cent. Freight cargo charges and excise duty should also be standardised to increase trade volume with five per cent import duty at any port of entry in Sarawak. Special import and export license for agriculture and marine products ought to be made available to develop and enhance agriculture trade/products. Grants for Research and Development into food processing and packaging should be given so more Sarawak products can be exported or made ready to export with better food processing and handling.
“Real Property Gains Tax for individuals should revert to pass practice for at least purchasers of lower cost housing.”
Keith Chin, Lawyer
“I hope Budget 2020 would extend the RM1,000 endowment fund to all primary school children as well. I hope petrol subsidy for lower income households under BSH (Bantuan Sara Hidup) scheme would come true and wish for more hospitals in Sarawak to ease the congestion at existing public hospitals. I wish the budget would assist first-time home owners by offering lower interest for houses within the range of RM150,000 and provide affordable houses for those earning RM3,000 or less per month. I also hope to see more childcare facilities set up in government and private sectors.”
Adenny Iyan, 32
Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Auditor
“I hope there will be a special provision for rural schools in Sarawak. Rural schools are lagging behind in many ways including educational technology, infrastructure, internet facility and learning equipment. With more provisions allocated in Budget 2020, it would help to upgrade rural schools to be on par with schools in the urban areas and enhance the standard of our education equivalent to the education system in foreign countries.”
Teacher, SK Long Anap in Ulu Baram
> To be continued tomorrow