KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — Budget 2017 is a “commitment” budget instead of an election one, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today amid speculation of an early general election.
He said the major focus of the government budget, scheduled to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow, will be on raising disposable income, entrepreneurship training, mitigating the rising cost of living, affordable housing, education, and healthcare.
“This is a commitment Budget. Others may put short-term political gain first, but this government will not,” Najib said in a statement.
“We commit to ensuring that the economic fundamentals of the nation remain resilient and strong — including policy on deficit targets , spurred economic activity, and the long-term health of the financial system.
“We commit to being prudent and creative in optimising expenditure, to ensure delivery for the people. And we commit to a comprehensive, inclusive Budget that will fulfil our promises to the people,” he added.
Najib said he would be making announcements on infrastructure, development, public transport and health, fiscal incentives for small and medium enterprises, and human capital and skills training.
“In line with our commitment to put the people first; we intend to accelerate economic growth, empower human capital, drive education, increase connectivity, strengthen inclusive development and improve public service delivery,” he said.
Najib added that national security remains his biggest priority and more resources would be allocated to fight extremism and crime.
The prime minister pointed out that in a year when advanced economies are expected to grow only 1.6 per cent, Malaysia’s economy is on course to grow between 4 and 4.5 per cent.
He said the government will ensure that inflation, growth and debt levels remain strong and resilient to reflect the “core fundamentals of the economy”.
“Despite fiscal pressures, inflation has been kept at low levels, and the Malaysian people as a whole are better off today than they were a year ago. Indeed, we are now an upper middle income country,” he said.
Najib said Putrajaya will continue efforts to improve the lot of the bottom and middle 40 per cent of society.
“Our focus is on both the people economy and the public economy. The overall happiness and welfare of the people is key objective,” he said.
Among the items that analysts foresee in the upcoming Budget, as reported by international newswire Reuters, are a RM100 hike in cash handouts for low-income households, a 1 percentage point cut to corporate tax, and an increase in the allocation of funds through the Employees Provident Fund for down payments by first-time house buyers.