29/3/2018, Kuala Lumpur - A general view of Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur. Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Budget 2022: Govt, Opposition have begun holding discussions, says deputy finance minister

KUALA LUMPUR — The federal government has started holding discussions with the Opposition before Budget 2022 to be tabled in Parliament in October.Deputy Finance Minister, Yamani Hafez Musa, said that the government was committed to discussing with the Opposition, following the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Transformation and Political Stability, signed by the federal government and Pakatan Harapan (PH).

He said this, among other things, was to ensure that the proposed initiatives and measures of the Budget 2022, to prioritise the health and welfare of the people as well as matters related to business continuity.

“In the spirit of mutual agreement, especially in the effort to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and on the concern of the government and the opposition to restore the country, the government hopes that the negotiations on Budget 2022 will run smoothly and can be agreed upon,” he said when winding-up the debate on the motion of thanks for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s royal address, for the Finance Ministry (MOF) in the Dewan Rakyat today.

According to him, PBS is one of the transformations implemented by the government which aims to provide opportunities to all stakeholders to provide feedback towards the statistics of a budget that meets the needs of the people and is in line with national policies and objectives.

Apart from that, the MOF is also actively conducting various engagement sessions with industry players and non-governmental organisations, including tours to the states to hear feedback and suggestions.

He said Budget 2022 would focus on protecting and restoring lives and livelihoods, as well as rebuilding the country’s resilience.

Meanwhile, on the proposed interest payment exemption for the moratorium on bank loans, he said the government was still discussing the matter with banking institutions, as it involved commercial decisions between the banks, boards of directors and shareholders.

On the proposal to increase the i-Citra withdrawal limit, Yamani Hafez said it needed to be refined and studied thoroughly, besides taking into account the question of balancing between current needs and the importance of retirement savings, with the country expected to experience an ageing population in the next 10 to 15 years. BERNAMA

Finance Ministry to propose raising Covid-19 fund ceiling to RM110b, says deputy finance minister

KUALA LUMPUR — The Ministry of Finance (MoF) will propose raising the ceiling limit of the Covid-19 fund from RM65 billion to RM110 billion in the current parliamentary session, said Deputy Finance Minister II Yamani Hafez Musa.

He said the increase was needed to cover the total payment commitment which had now reached RM91.8 billion.

“There are still several initiatives that are under implementation and these will end in December 2021, such as the Covid-19 Special Assistance (BKC), Prihatin 4.0 Special Grant, job loss assistance as well as special electricity bill discounts.

“There are also several initiatives where implementations are extended until next year including the Wage Subsidy Programme, Job Retention Programme, Recruitment Incentive Programme, training assistance, skills upgrading programme, Prihatin Network Programme and other Covid-19 expenditures,” he said in his wrap-up speech during the debate on the Royal Address at the Dewan Rakyat today.

Touching on the economic stimulus packages amounting to RM530 billion, he explained that it included fiscal and non-fiscal injections.

“Of the RM91.8 billion direct fiscal injection until September 2021, a total of RM60 billion has been spent or 92 per cent of the total RM65 billion approved in Parliament through amendments to the Temporary Measures For Reducing The Impact Of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Act 2020,” he said.

Regarding the proposal to impose an extraordinary profit levy (windfall tax) as additional revenue that would be used to fund activities or special rehabilitation programmes to help the intended target group, Yamani explained that the proposal was still under consideration.

“The government is looking at a number of other measures to increase revenue, including imposing a tax on stock investment proceeds as well as imposing a higher tax on a one-off basis on companies that generated extraordinary profits during the Covid-19 pandemic period.

“We are also taking into account views and feedback from stakeholders on the implementation of this special tax so as not to affect the country’s economy and competitiveness, especially in efforts to attract foreign investment,” he said. — Bernama

— Bernama