Fix up this budget — Hafidz Baharom

NOVEMBER 13 — With the budget now being debated by the lawmakers in Parliament, there are a few points that I personally would like to see discussed.

Firstly, yes, it is a question of how the government will increase revenue from taxes. Even with vape and tobacco related products being taxed 10 per cent next year, there is no guarantee that the government will somehow reach the targeted amount.

That is, unless, there is an aspect that we have yet to see being added into taxes next year — perhaps the past faux pas mentioned online transaction tax that was brought up by a certain deputy minister?

Furthermore, there is a need to look at how taxes on vape products will lead to the regulating of already in the market devices and liquids. Should the government pass a bill of law that does not cater to the market in terms of nicotine content allowance or even allowing the registration of new devices, it will lead to a black market situation just like contraband cigarettes.

Secondly, we need to talk about Jasa — the reestablishment of the government propaganda arm under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to the tune of over RM80 million. With the current flow of SMSes from the National Security Council, what is there that needs an entire propaganda arm to be activated again?

The Communications and Multimedia Deputy Minister was quick to say that Jasa was needed to promote a national unity agenda. This is odd, especially since there is an entire ministry established for national unity. Why not just give the money over to Senator Ti Lian Ker and his deputy to promote “national unity”?

Why the need for a secondary unity under the PMO?

Thirdly, the Ministry of Youth and Sports should be receiving an increased budget especially now. Both portfolios need increased investment — youth for retraining and hiring, sports for the upcoming Olympics in Japan next year, care for infrastructure and continuing the training of our young athletes and the technology investment to conduct live sports to be shown online.

When the world is starving for sports to watch, that is exactly the time for Malaysia to focus on fixing the infrastructure in disrepair — including the Shah Alam stadium which needs some care, if the Mentri Besar is not too busy sniffing the polluted water at the treatment plants.

Yes, the nation is in dire straits — we need investments in jobs for locals, not bring in migrant labour as companies keep asking for. We need investments in retraining for all those affected, not just the aviation industry but also tourism and hotels.

We need hotels to get a tax break to refurbish and repurpose themselves for the current trend of shared or individual offices, similar to how Japan capsule hotels have become co-working spaces.

One would think that this government would at least be thankful to the Sheraton Hotel group, at least.

But most of all, the country needs a future vision of what our direction is for the next few years — which is why it is extremely odd that there was no mention of the next Malaysia Plan in the budget.

Are our cabinet ministers all working in silos? What’s the next ten years for Malaysia?

At least under the past Pakatan Harapan government, we could all whack them for their continued deafness in investing in Industry 4.0 and even the insistence of e-wallets and the daft idea of a Harapan Coin. But with this government — there is a void, I would have said it was a black hole but at least we now have a picture of what a black hole looks like.

In comparison, it seems that this cabinet is too busy firefighting and ignoring the need to wear a face mask to the point that they have forgotten that they need to plan for a long-term future, regardless of whether or not they call a snap election or get kicked out beforehand like the last government.

All in all, the government needs to reconsider their ability to run a country, to the point of being a viable option in an election. In short, this government, needs to govern.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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