Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman has welcomed the 2014 Budget that was tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday. He described it as realistic and achievable.
“The budget can ensure that the country’s economy will continue to progress and expand,” he said at a press conference after watching the live telecast of the 2014 budget at his official residence at Sri Gaya.
The RM264.2 billion worth of budget has five major thrusts: stimulating economic activities, strengthening fiscal management, inculcating excellence in human capital, intensifying urban and rural development and ensuring the well-being of the people towards achieving a developed nation status.
With the theme, Strengthening Economic Resilience, Accelerating Transformation and Fulfilling Promises, Musa said that the state government will give its full commitment to implement various initiatives, measures and programmes under the 2014 Budget especially those involving Sabah.
“The budget gives assurance that the government is able to lessen the impact of the global economic slowdown and undertake measures to strengthen the country’s economy.
“I believe that the budget contains adequate measures to face the global economic challenges and endure that the country continues to be sustainable and resilient and able to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of the people,” he said.
In the 2014 budget, focuses on high impact projects such as the Sabah Ammonia Urea (SAMUR) project, the Kebabangan project and agropolitan project, the upgrading of the Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan airports, education development, health, customary land survey and strengthening of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESCOMM) zone.
Among the highlights of the 2014 Budget were the government’s intent to introduce the six per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2015, the increased BR1M handout, abolishment of the 34-cent sugar subsidy and a new income tax structure.
Tabling the budget, Najib said that a single tax known as the Goods and Service Tax (GST) that will replace the sales and service tax will benefit all Malaysians.
He said that the 6 percent GST will be implemented effective 1 April 2015. He assured the nation that the GST will not be imposed on basic food items such as rice, sugar, salt, flour, cooking oil, lentils, herbs, spices, salted fish and piped water supply. The exemption will also cover the first 200 units of electricity per month for domestic consumers, transportation services such as bus, train, LRT, taxi, ferry, boat, highway toll as well as education and health services.
Najib said that the government will also provide various forms of assistance during the transition period of the GST implementation, including a one-off cash assistance of RM300 to households who qualify as BR1M recipients.
There will also be an income tax reduction for individuals. “Individual income tax rates would be reduced by 1 to 3 percentage points for all tax payers,” he said.
The abolishment of the 34-cent sugar subsidy was intended to reduce the high sugar consumption considered to be a contributing to the high incidence of diabetes among Malaysians.
“According to statistics, 2.6 million Malaysians under the age of 30 are diabetic. If left untreated, patients will face various complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and amputation,” he said.
Almost immediately, the cost of sugar will rise from RM2.50 per kg to RM2.84.