Following the tabling of Budget 2018, lawmakers from both sides of the political divide have given their respective responses to the budget dubbed as the “mother of all budgets”.
As expected, lawmakers from BN praised it while MPs from the opposition criticised it, citing the continued use of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in particular.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, for example, admitted that it would have been “game over” for Pakatan Harapan if Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had announced its abolishment.
Below are the respective reactions from the lawmakers in Parliament today.
Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai
Prime Minister Najib has outlined a truly definitive plan to realise our nation’s growth potential during the tabling of the Budget today. There is no doubt that Budget 2018 is all-inclusive and holistic in paving the way for growth, underscoring the government’s strong commitment to cater to the needs of the rakyat.
As a people-centric budget, the measures are highly attuned to the welfare of Malaysians, especially those who fall under the B40 and M40 income groups. In particular, M40 households, which are defined as those with a monthly income below RM9,000, will benefit from a reduction in income tax. In addition, more than 260,000 Malaysians will no longer fall under the tax-paying bracket.
These are tangible, positive initiatives to provide the rakyat with higher disposable income, thus better-addressing the cost of living.
As the backbone of Malaysia’s economy, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have also been allocated incentives to encourage their development, given their significant contribution to our nation’s (GDP).
Indeed, SME entrepreneurs within the Chinese community will receive aid from the government amounting to RM50 million in soft loans via Kojadi. Moreover, petty traders and hawkers will also benefit from soft loans totalling RM30 million.
Education has long been one of MCA’s core agenda, and we are greatly heartened by YAB PM’s decision to allocate RM50 million to fund national-type Chinese Schools (SJKCs). Beyond this, Chinese new villages will be receiving significant funding of RM75 million for development and repairs. This is a testament to BN's strength and unity as a multi-racial coalition that cares for all Malaysians.
Connectivity and transportation infrastructure remain crucial to the growth of a nation. To this end, the government has rightly allocated RM10.48 billion for the development of the land, maritime and aviation transport sectors, from rail projects and highways, as well as new and expanded airports.
These developments augur well for our logistics industry, particularly as our nation embraces the digital economy with the creation of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ). With the first phase of the DFTZ expected to attract investments worth RM700 million and create 2,500 job opportunities, Malaysia is on track to grow as a regional e-commerce hub.
It is clear that at a time when the global economy remains challenging, Budget 2018 holds the potential to leapfrog the Malaysian economy to greater heights. Most importantly, it is an affirmative plan to ensure that Malaysia’s per capita income continues to grow.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng
I think it would have crushed our hopes if he had abolished GST, then he definitely would have won the next general election hands down with two-thirds majority
With GST, fundamental problems still exist, the business sentiment is down… These are fundamental problems that have not been addressed. (Just) look at indicators; investment going down, people have difficulty finding high-income jobs.
(Najib) definitely would want to win (targeted groups) over, that is normal, a part of his strategy. But as long as it's not abolishing GST, this problem faced by people everyday will (still) be faced by the people.
If he had abolished GST, then it’s game over, now it’s still game on.
(I am also) disappointed he didn’t abolish the toll at Penang bridge, it’s amongst the earliest tolls, I haven’t read the concession, but it’s one of earliest tolls, so why was it not included in.
GST is still the most important issue, affects the economic livelihood of Malaysians. If GST is there, it can only go up. When Singapore started GST, it was 3 percent, now 7 percent.
If BN wins power, GST will still be there, we are sure it will be more than 6 percent, maybe not now, but three, four years from now it will be higher than that.
It’s at the back of people’s minds, they know what they are voting for. You vote for BN, you have higher GST in the future.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
I think the budget is inclusive, it includes all segments of society and does not just focus on the B40.
The prime minister is not only just concerned on police personnel but the private sector, pregnant women.
For the Home Ministry, I want to say thank you for the allocation.
PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail
We have to rid the corruption, wastage in our country, that is most important.
Okay, you can give all the goodies, but the basic problems of the country in the economic administration of the country has to be addressed.
(The budget is just) showmanship.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan
I think it’s prudent to say that (some of the announcements) are one-offs, because we don’t know what will happen in 2018. Supposed the price of oil goes down to 30 dollars.
What he (Najib) did was responsible. A one-off, that doesn’t mean we cannot do it next year. It all depends on what’s going to happen in 2018.
I hope (that the budget will make BN win); everyone said it’s an election budget, so be it. As long as we do it responsibly, what we give to the people is reasonable.
I wish, I hope (that the toll abolishment will help us win Johor and Kedah).
We want to convince them (the people) that we are the better choice, that we can manage the states better.
Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali
I think this year’s budget, like previous years, is irresponsible because the prime minister as minister of finance placed the operations expenditure at 84 percent while development is only 16 percent. How will the government encourage economic growth at only 16 percent?
I invite all to see Selangor’s budget which has managed to increase expenditure for development by more than 53 percent and this is an example of responsible economic management.
In relation to the tolls in Selangor, I want to congratulate the people of Selangor who have demanded their rights. After many years of fighting, the (federal) government now has to bow down to the people of Selangor by abolishing the tolls.
Former Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah
I had been second finance minister for seven years up until 2016, this budget is actually the best. It looks at the reality, moves forward, (has a) multiplier effect.
The government would like the private sector to play a more important role and is going to the digital economy, that means we want to be in line with the reality. In regards with that, the government is providing more facilities and funding for TVET.
We are going into automatic (means of doing work). We will be reducing the number of labour from foreign countries. This means this will help to increase the income of the country.
GST is about increases in prices but not much. The problem with us is the increase in salary compared with the increase in prices is too far. So when we change to TVET, get more skilled people, (income) will be higher.
I’d like to compare the budget with the opposition’s, it’s not realistic. They want free education. For education you have to have sources of financing, where are the sources?
Like Germany, the sources of financing the education is from personal tax, about 70 percent, that means in a country if we do not have the money, where do (we pay for education)?
As for the GST, 170 companies implement it. Are we saying these countries are backward?
This is why the opposition’s budget is irrelevant. As second finance minister, I have been observing them since 2009, I wanted to see what transformation programme they could do, nothing.
DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang
I am very disappointed.Throughout the nearly three-hour budget presentation by the prime minister, I did not hear a single reference to the international multi-billion dollar 1MDB money-laundering scandal which had overnight transformed Malaysia into a global kleptocracy.
How can Najib boast that the 2018 Budget which he had presented is the “Mother of All Budgets” - that no other budget “during the last 22 years or the past 60 years of our own nation” had ever been crafted so well – when he dare not even mention the 1MDB “mother of all scandals” which transformed Malaysia overnight into a global kleptocracy!
I am shocked that Najib should claim that he is even better than his father, Tun Razak who had presented a budget as Finance Minister.
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua
Abolishing tolls is the opposition's idea. When at first we mentioned about it, the government said it is not possible, it will make them bankrupt, but now they have done it.
This means that the policies put forward by Pakatan Harapan/Pakatan Rakyat are viable. What we worry about now is not the abolishing of the tolls, but the compensation to be paid to the concessionaire. If we abolish tolls but the concessionaire has to be compensated, it is the taxpayer who is going to have to foot the bill.
It is a clear cut election budget, full of goodies for all segment of the society.
PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad
Abolishing the toll is good, that's what we want.
The operational and development budget ratio should also be balanced, probably at a 60:40 ratio, but today, the total opposite happened - the government allocated more for operational.
The good thing about this budget is, certain tolls have been done away with, but the GST remains.
Kapar MP G Manivannan
This is the budget to win the heart of Indians. He (Najib) realises that Indian votes are very crucial, as, at almost 60 percent parliamentary seats, Indians will be the decision makers.
He (Najib) mentioned the word "Naalai namathe" (the future is ours) to win Indian votes; in 2013, he said "Nambikkai" (trust) to win Indian votes, but nothing has moved.
I don't think Indians want to see a change of policy, as they are suffering now.
Giving Amanah Saham will not benefit the poor. Among all the communities, the one in immediate help is the Indians.