KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 6): Budget 2021 addresses the lives and livelihoods of all Malaysians amid the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the chairmen of Bursa Malaysia Bhd and Khazanah Research Institute (KRI).
In a statement, KRI chairman Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop noted that the government has made the highest ever allocation for health, targeting both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 areas.
He particularly highlighted the RM90 million allocated to the pneumococcal immunisation program expected to protect 500,000 children.
“Furthermore, the recognition of mental health conditions as a serious problem is laudable, particularly in light of Covid-19. The Budget 2021 allocations for health will undoubtedly enable Malaysia to be in a strong position to tackle the ongoing public health crisis,” he said.
The KRI chairman noted that given the recent revision of the poverty line, the increased spending on welfare schemes for those who fall under it is of the most importance. In particular, this increase in support for disabled persons, the elderly, and poor families with children will help to cushion the increasing cost of living.
Additionally, the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat (BPR) scheme is an improvement from the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH), as it accounts for differing household sizes, dependencies and different forms of deprivations.
Nor Mohamed viewed that the Program Skim Jaminan Penjanaan Pekerjaan (JanaKerja), the Short-Term Employment Programme (MySTEP) and an extension of targeted wage subsidy measures are timely and would provide more opportunities for Malaysians in the job market — with more than 500,000 new job opportunities targeted to be available next year.
He also noted that the provision of childcare centres in both private and public buildings will help to ease the burdens faced by working women and promote female workforce participation. He added the RM21 million for women facing domestic violence and divorce was laudable.
At the same time, he opined that the RM150 million allocated to encourage local entrepreneurs to adopt digital services through the SME and Micro SME e-Commerce Campaign should stimulate the digital economy in the country.
“Recognising the need for digital upskilling in the workforce to enable more meaningful participation in the digital economy, Budget 2021 has also included RM100 million allocation through MDEC to provide ICT training to the current workforce. In terms of digital inclusivity, RM180 telecommunication allowance for B40 households and RM500 million allocation for internet connectivity in 430 schools is encouraging,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bursa Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar characterised Budget 2021 as an “expansionary and holistic budget” that is appropriate with current priorities for the rakyat’s wellbeing.
“Sustainability agenda has also gained attention. The alignment of Budget 2021 with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals 2030 is timely.
"This includes the commitment to create the Sustainable Finance Hub and to put Malaysia as a hub for sustainable living. The issuance of Sustainable Bonds to finance environmental friendly and social projects in 2021 is keenly awaited,” said Abdul Wahid in a separate statement.
Meanwhile, Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd (BPMB) president and chief executive officer Arshad Mohamed Ismail said the additional measures under Budget 2021 designed to ease the impact of Covid-19 on the public and business are of particular significance and importance.
“We at BPMB are honoured to be given the responsibility to be part of this development agenda through the National Development Scheme, the Maritime & Logistics Scheme, the Sustainable Development Scheme, the Tourism Infrastructure Scheme and the Public Transportation Scheme.
"We also support the government’s move to empower Bumiputera entrepreneurs through BPMB, among others, by introducing capacity building programmes to reduce disparity between the races. The decision to extend the Digitalisation Transformation Scheme will help stimulate digitalisation initiatives with availability of funds until Dec 31, 2023. We believe these financial support schemes are timely and effective in catalysing national economic recovery,” Arshad said in a statement.