KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — Malaysians may have “more money” in their pockets to cope with the rising cost of living, Barisan Nasional (BN) has pledged in its manifesto launched tonight which outlined several measures to increase Malaysians’ income and reduce their expenses.
The manifesto covers a range of Malaysians from low-income groups and smallholders working on Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlements, to those in the civil service and private sectors.
Felda settlers, farmers and fishermen
The manifesto aims to dispose debts owed for replanting efforts, those accumulated during the replanting process, and the purchase of Felda Global Ventures Bhd shares, in addition to allowing replanters access to a special grant.
It planned to financially compensate rubber smallholders who sustain damage to their crops during the monsoon season through the smallholders a seasonal aid and incentive for rubber production.
It also pledged the Farm Assistance Scheme for those growing coconut, oil palm, cocoa and kenaf.
The manifesto also promised to protect fishermen and fish-breeders from exploitation by middlemen, by minimising the latter’s involvement in the supply chain.
Rural folks under the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra), South Kelantan Development Board (Kesedar) and the Central Terengganu Development Board (Ketengah) may also receive RM222 million in development funds.
BN also pledged to modernise the entire agricultural sector into a high-income one through the introduction of the latest technology.
Government employees and private sector
Those earning less than RM2,500 in government-linked companies (GLC) and investment companies (GLIC) may be given insurance, health benefits and cost of living allowances.
Meanwhile, those in the private sector can look forward to better remuneration with the establisment of a “Fair Works Commission” to determine appropriate salary levels.
BN also recognised calls from various parties to raise the minimum wage of workers from the current RM1,000 to RM1,500 gradually over the next five years.
Additionally the maximum limit of interest rates on loans and late payment penalties on credit cards may be reduced, besides the introduction of dividend rates and multi-tier bonuses for investments and unit fund trust funds and other GLIC except the Employees Provident Fund.
BN also planned to set up a platform that would bridge all government ministries, departments and agencies to enable the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) handout to reach everyone in the bottom 40 per cent households.
The children of those currently receiving BR1M may also receive one-off aid amounting to RM1,500 if they are registered in tertiary educational and vocational institutes.
BR1M receivers must also immunise their children and join vocational and skills training.
Support for the veterans and the arts industry
Veterans over the age of 60 currently not receiving BR1M or pensions may receive a Special Assistance of RM600 per year.
Meanwhile a sum of RM5 million may be channeled every three years to the Arts Practitioners’ Welfare Fund, and another RM5 million every five years for students group Kelab Penggerak Warisan and Sastera Siswa (PEWARIS).
Individuals contributing to the empowerment of arts and culture may receive a tax incentive of RM1,000 per year.