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An inclusive budget at all levels, say ministers

Budget 2016 tabled today by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has been described as an inclusive and welfare budget for people of all levels in the country.

The budget has also been described as the best one to help the people face the pressures of increased cost of living today, taking into account the uncertain world economy.

Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the budget this year focused on the many proactive efforts by the government to improve the existing incentives and facilities provided to the people and the ministry.

"I believe the budget this time is based on a good foundation even though we are currently in uncertain economic times which do not affect government efforts in ensuring that the people have a prosperous life," he told reporters when met at the lobby of the Dewan Rakyat after the tabling of the budget.

On the allocation given to the Defence Ministry, Hishamuddin said it was a relief because clearly it took into account the needs of the ministry including the welfare of the security forces personnel.

"With the allocation, I am confident the ministry will achieve the agenda that has been planned in ensuring that the security of the country is under control," he said.

Hishamuddin, who is the MP for Sembrong, also said that he was happy with the allocation for the construction of quarters and camps for the security forces.

Making education ministry 'efficient'

Higher Education Minister Idris Jusoh said the budget also gave emphasis to improving the quality of education in the country.

He said making the various allocations in this budget proved to be a little challenging but he was optimistic the ministry could develop national education well.

"It is a challenging budget ... maybe a few cuts here and there, no doubt, but it makes us more efficient," he said.

Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid said the ministry could focus on curriculum and co-curriculum development nationwide.

"Students at all levels, from primary to secondary as well as matriculation, will be involved in the development process and get the same benefits through this budget," he said.

At the same time, the ministry would focus on strengthening maintenance of infrastructure and facilities in all schools.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim said the allocation of RM848 million to start the operations of the Kuala Lumpur Women's and Children Hospital in October 2016 was a sign that Malaysia was heading towards becoming a developed nation because many developed nations had such hospitals.

She said this was also a good start for many more hospitals exclusively for women and children in the future.

"Of course we want more, but we will start with one in Kuala Lumpur first and then we will add on when the economy is better," said Rohani, who is the MP for Batang Lupar.

'A disciplined budget'

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Senator Paul Low Seng Kuan said the government was still in the process of adjusting the current economic situation due to reduced revenue from petroleum.

"The budget has to deal with current circumstances, a lot of trimming down and the good thing is the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which compensates for the lesser revenue from petroleum. So it is a very disciplined budget and we need to maintain this discipline," he said.

Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam said he felt that the budget also emphasised the quality of health services provided to the people, including adding five more hospitals - in Pasir Gudang, Kemaman, Pendang, Maran, and Cyberjaya - as well as the reconstruction of the Kajang Hospital and the opening of 33 new 1Malaysia clinics.

"This will have a big impact on the delivery of health services to the people," he said.

Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the allocation given to his ministry would be a boon to people in the low-income group.

He said the implementation of the paddy grading initiative and improvement of the paddy price subsidy scheme from Jan 1, 2016, could encourage farmers to improve the quality of paddy and increase their income up to RM1,400 a month.

'Focus on B40, M40 shows concern'

Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the RM42 million allocation for construction of the Mukah Airport in Sarawak and upgrading of the Kuantan and Kota Bharu Airports could boost the national economy.

Liow also expressed his thanks to the government for its concern for the Chinese community by allocating RM50 million through the Koperasi Jayadiri Malaysia Berhad (Kojadi) to help entrepreneurs in the community.

According to Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the over RM1.5 billion allocation to lighten the cost of living for the lowest 40 percent population (B40) in the 2016 budget was a move by the government to ensure the prosperity of the people in the current uncertain global economy.

"The focus on B40 and M40 as well as the various tax exemptions show the concern of the nation's leaders to help the deserving groups," said Khairy, the MP for Rembau.

- Bernama

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