Reactions from industry captains

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 10): CIMB Group Holdings Bhd’s Acting Group Chief Executive Officer Tengku Datuk Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the budget’s multi-pronged approach practises fiscal discipline to strengthen the country’s public finances, yet is able to implement policies that promote more equitable and inclusive growth.

He commented that the budget aims to manage competing priorities, as the government carefully steers the economy to meet the challenges of implementing critical fiscal reforms next year.

“The treasury’s GDP growth projection of 5% to 6% for 2015 is pragmatic, in view of the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) and subsidy rationalisation measures,” he said in a statement today.

Zafrul also described Budget 2015 as “moderately expansionary” to include measures to strengthen the social safety net and ease concerns over the higher cost of living, accelerate development expenditure and spur higher yielding and productivity enhancing investments.  

His view was echoed by Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, managing director of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, who said that Budget 2015 has asked the most important economic question of our time – how to balance both the Capital Economy and the “People Economy” or Ekonomi Keperluan Rakyat in a progressive, equitable and sustained manner?  

"For a while now, progress on the macro-economic level has been little felt at the microeconomic firm, let alone at the average household and individual level. In that regard, Budget 2015 marks a watershed in trying to address the challenge of balancing the two more precisely and sensitively, and, in emphasising EKR (Ekonomi Keperluan Rakyat) first, making a correct humanistic policy choice," he added. 

Meanwhile, Mah Sing Group Bhd Group Managing Director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum lauded the various initiatives in Budget 2015, which he said continues to be pro-rakyat and focuses on creating more affordable housing, ease concerns over the cost of living and enhance job opportunities.

Leong added that the government is taking action to increase home ownership with the Youth Housing Scheme, which is a smart partnership between the Government, Bank Simpanan Rakyat, Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and Cagamas.

“Overall, we are heartened to see the focus on helping first time home buyers,” he said in a press statement today.

Under Budget 2015, first time home owners, who are aged between 25 and 40, married and with household income of less than RM10,000, are eligible for a number of goodies when purchasing a property.

These include RM200 monthly financial assistance for the first two years to help with monthly instalments, 50% stamp duty exemption on transfer documents and loan agreements, as well as a 10% loan guarantee so that they could obtain 100% financing. They can also withdraw from their EPF account 2, to top up their monthly instalment.

Leong also said the reduction of income tax rates by one to three percentage points for assessment year 2015, brings the country closer to regional practices.

“Not only would tax payers have more disposable income, this will make Malaysia a more attractive employment destination,” he concluded.

Supermax Corporation Bhd Group Managing Director Datuk Seri Stanley Thai said the 2015 budget announcement of the following incentive programmes would accelerated the growth and enhance global competitiveness of gloves and other rubber products that are Made in Malaysia.

He said in a media statement today that the RM300 million allocation for promotion of new markets would help the glove industry to enter into new markets. “We do hope that there is an effective implementation and disbursement of funds for promotion of new markets to those genuine exporters.”

Citibank Bhd Chief Executive Officer Lee Lung Nien meanwhile, noted that the just-announced budget is the bridge to the next phase of economic transformation for the country.

“We welcome the corporate incentives to stimulate and attract greater investments, in light of the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) next year. It is visionary, with a well-balanced approach to accelerate growth and uplift standards of living amidst rising costs and inflationary pressures. It is a plus for both consumers and investors.”

Likewise, Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Bhd Chief Executive Officer Osman Morad viewed the extension of GST zero-rated list of items and the increase in BR1M to be a positive move for the rakyat, as this will alleviate the burden of the lower income group and cushion the temporary inflationary effect of GST implementation.