Budget 2017.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tabled Budget 2017 in Parliament on Friday.

The following are the highlights of the Finance Minister’s Budget speech:

* Budget 2017 allocates RM260.8bil, up 3.4% from 2016 Budget Recalibration.

* Government expects to achieve 3% fiscal deficit in 2017.

* Only 2.1 million income tax payers out of 14.6 million of country’s total workforce.

* No increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) for 2017.

* A nation’s economy is highly related to perception, as without confidence there will be no investment to drive economy.

To appreciate the contribution of civil servants, the following was announced:

- To extend the Fully Paid Study Leave with scholarship to the Support Group, which is currently limited to the Management and Professional Group.

- Quarantine leave up to five days without record for public servants whose children are ill and are quarantined.

- Computer loan facility extension for the purchase of smartphones. Public servants can utilise this once every three years, limited to RM5,000.

- An increase to the limit of motorcycle loan facility available for public servants from RM5,000 to RM10,000.

- To increase the civil servant’s housing loans to RM200,000 and RM750,000 from RM120,000 and RM600,000 respectively.

- To complete 30,000 units of Perumahan Penjawat Awam 1Msia at a selling price of between RM90,000 and RM300,000, which is 20% below market price.

- To extend the contract of service and contract for service officers, expiring at the end of this year, for at least one year.

- To address the issues of specialist doctors exiting and promotion delays, Grade 56 introduced between Grade 54 and JUSA C for medical and dental specialists.

- To appoint the first group of doctors, dentists and pharmacists on contract latest by Dec 2016 due to constraint in permanent post. In other words, nearly 2,600 doctors without housemanship will now serve on contract.

For the rakyat’s well-being, the Government remains committed to implement rakyat-centric projects and programs in urban and rural areas, as follows:

- To brighten villages at night, a total of 97,000 street lights and 3,000 LED lights to be installed at crossroads for 7,500 villages nationwide.

- To enhance connectivity of villages, towns and cities, 616km of village roads and bridges will be built and upgraded with an allocation of RM1.2bil.

- To maintain state roads, a total of RM4.6bil is allocated to all states under the Malaysian Road Records Information System.

- To build and refurbish 17,000 units of destitute and dilapidated houses in remote villages and orang asli settlements with an allocation of RM350mil.

- To increase the supply of clean water with an allocation of RM732mil, targeting 5,200 houses and upgrading the Felda water supply system. A water supply fund is to be established immediately with an allocation of RM500mil to address water supply issues throughout the nation.

- To provide electricity supply in rural areas, targeting approximately 10,000 houses with an allocation of RM460 million.

- The Government is concerned about the welfare of urban residences, especially flats. These rundown flats lack maintenance and functioning lifts.

* The Government will implement people-friendly projects with an allocation of RM800mil, with priority given to local G1 & G2 contractors.

* A total of 69 flood mitigation plans will be continued nationwide with an allocation of RM495mil.

* Government to implement MyBeautiful New Home, especially for the B40 group, with an allocation of RM200mil. At the initial stage, a total of 5,000 units will be built with prices ranging from RM40,000 to RM50,000 per unit. The Government will finance RM20,000, while the remaining will be paid as instalments by each owner.

* A total of 9,850 units of houses to be built under the People’s Housing Program with an allocation of RM134mil.

* A total of 11,250 PPR houses are being built with an allocation of RM576mil. The PPR houses are to be sold at between RM35,000 and RM42,000.

To assist in improving the rakyat’s income opportunities, especially the B40 group, RM275mil is allocated for the following:

- Expanding the MySuria Prog nationwide with allocation of RM45mil. Solar panels will be installed in more than 1,600 houses.

- Expanding the Mobileprenuer Programme by Giatmara with an allocation of RM30mil, targeting 3,000 participants using motorcycles.

- Introduction of agropreneur programs to produce 3,000 young entrepreneurs with an allocation of RM100mil.

- Revitalising eUsahawan and eRezeki programmes under MDEC, comprising 300,000 participants with an allocation of RM100mil.

* RM10bil allocated for subsidy, comprising of fuel subsidies including for cooking gas, toll charges, public transport and various incentives.

* To assist paddy farmers, the Government will allocate RM1.3bil to subsidise price, seeds and fertilisers including hill paddy.

* As an incentive to registered rubber smallholders, the Government will allocate RM250mil for rubber production.

* Government to introduce Rainy Season Assistance with an amount of RM250 monthly for three months in November, December and January.

* Monthly cost of living allowance of RM200 to RM300 for fishermen will be continued, benefiting 57,000 fishermen.

BR1M’s assistance for next year, which will benefit 7 million recipients with an allocation of RM6.8bil, will be increased as follows:

- For households in e-Kasih database with monthly income below RM3,000, it will be increased to RM1,200 from RM1,050 and RM1,000.

- For households earning RM3,000 to RM4,000, it will be increased from RM800 to RM900.

- For single individuals earning below RM2,000, it will be increased from RM400 to RM450.

* Bereavement Scheme to be continued with RM1,000 compensation given to the next of kin of BR1M recipients from households and those in the elderly category.

* RM4.6bil allocated for TVET educations. Four TVET intuitions to become polytechnics, another four vocational colleges and one more become a training institute for TVET trainers.

* RM220mil allocated to upgrade educational equipment in TVET institutions, as well as RM360mil for Skills Development Fund Corporation.

* Double tax deduction to be given on expenses incurred by private companies to provide Structured Internship Programmes for students under TVET.

* RM50mil is allocated to extend the SL1M programmes by GLCs to 20,000 graduates in 2017 compared with 15,000 graduates in 2016.

For housing, the following was announced to enhance first home buyers’ affordability:

- To provide government vacant lands at strategic locations to GLCs and PR1MA to build more than 30,000 houses at a selling price or RM150,000 to RM300,000.

- To build around 10,000 houses in urban areas for rental to eligible youths with permanent job including young graduates entering the labour market.

- To build 5,000 units of People’s Friendly Home, with the Government subsidising up to RM20,000 per unit. RM200mil will be allocated to SPNB.

A new special “step up” end financing scheme for PR1MA programme, under which, 12,000 units worth RM3bil have been booked.

- Financing will be easier and more accessible to buyers with total loan of up to 90% to 100% with loan rejection rate to be reduced drastically. For example, applicants with monthly income of RM3,000 now eligible for loan of more than RM187,000, will be able to borrow RM295,000.

* Stamp duty exemption increased to 100% on instruments of transfer and housing loan instruments, to help reduce the cost of first home ownership. This exemption is limited to houses with value up to RM300,000 for first home buyers only for period between Jan 1 2017 this and Dec 31 2018.

* Second Generation House infrastructure development, a sum of RM200mil is allocated to Felda, RM100m for Felcra and RM100mil for Risda.

* Tax relief is extended to include purchase of printed newspapers, smartphones and tablets, internet subscriptions and gym membership fees.

* For the development of sports, a sum of RM1.2bil is allocated to the Youth and Sports Ministry.

* For healthcare RM25mil allocated for healthcare programmes and projects including upgrading hospital facilities nationwide with an allocation of RM536mil.

* Government to launch an initiative for ethernet broadband services in public universities to be increased to a max or100GB per second. MCMC to provide RM1bil to ensure coverage and quality of broadband nationwide reaches up to 20 megabytes per second.

* To promote the development of SMEs, the Government will allocate a total of RM75mil to implement programmes under SME Master Plan. A 2% rebate will be provided on interest rates charged to SME borrowers under the SJPP scheme.

This rebate is limited to a total accumulated funding of RM1bil which involves an allocation of RM100mil for a period of five years/

Among the incentives for education to help parents reduced schooling expenses, the Government will continue with the following programmes:

- To provide Schooling Assistance Programme of RM100 each to students from families earning up to RM3000, which will benefit 3.5 million students

- RM1.1bil for Hostel Meal Assistance Programme for 365,000 students.

- RM300mil for 1Malaysia Supplementary Food Programme for primary school students.

-  RM1.1bil to include Additional Assistance Payment for school fees; textbook assistance and per capita grant assistance.

- Government to provide matching grants of up to RM50 for accumulated savings in SSPN-i for students in Year 1 in fully-assisted govt schools.

- Book vouchers to be replaced with student debit card worth RM250 which can be used to purchase books, computer accessories and internet access.

In an effort to encourage repayments of PTPTN loans, the following incentives will be given:

- 15% discount on the outstanding debt for full settlement;

- 10% discount for payment of at least 50% of the outstanding debt made in a single payment.

- 10% discount for repayment through salary deduction or direct debit in accordance with the repayment schedule.

PTPTN repayment incentives to be in effect from Saturday, Oct 22 2016 till December 2017.

The Government is committed to upgrade public transport in rural areas through the following measures:

- Financial assistance to poor families, including General Assistance up to RM300 a month & Children Assistance up to RM450 a month.

- Allocation of RM424mil is provided for senior citizens, including senior citizen socioeconomic assistance of RM300 monthly.

- RM535m, for persons with disabilities, including employee allowance, disabled children training allowance & assistance for PWDs unable to work.

- GST relief for the purchase of aid equipment for registered PWDs without going through Private Charitable Entities.

Among the infrastructure projects announced were:

- Implementation of the new East Coast Rail Line project in phases with an estimated cost of RM55bil.

- Accelerating the implementation of Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah and Sarawak

- RM100bil is allocated to restore the East Coast railway line along Gua Musang – Tumpat that was destroyed during floods.

* RM20mil to be channelled to the 1Malaysia Hawkers and Petty Traders Foundation to provide loans to Chinese hawkers communities.

* Government to expand pre-school programmes to 50 schools with an allocation of RM10mil for Tamil schools.

* Among the measures announced for empowering Bumiputra, the Government will allocate RM100mil to SME Bank to increase opportunities to Bumiputra entrepreneurs. RM300mil also allocated to Tekun to assist small scaled entrepreneurs to develop their businesses including a new scheme called Temanita.

* RM1.8bil allocated for Defence assets maintenance and a sum of RM322mil allocated for personnel deployment at Esscom.

* Home Ministry allocated RM12.8bil including a sum of RM8.7bil for the Police

* To support breastfeeding working women Government to introduce tax relief up to RM1,000 for purchase of breastfeeding equipment.

* Tax relief of up to RM1,000 announced for taxpayers who enrol children aged six and below into registered nurseries and pre-schools.

* Jakim to increase monthly allowance of 15,000 imam in the country from RM750 to RM850. Other incentives announced include one-off payment of RM500 to nearly 16,000 Bilal and Siak for managing mosques and Kafa teachers’ allowance increased from RM800 to RM900 a month.

* RM85mil will be allocated to Permata to benefit 50,000 children.

* Special assistance of RM500 to all public servants while special payment of RM250 allocated for Government retirees.
More News and Reports on Budget 2017 @ http://www.thestar.com.my/budget2017/