Budget 2022 highlights: Here’s what Malaysians can expect to get as Covid-19 recovery continues

·5-min read
Malaysians buying daily necessities at the Putrajaya Farmers’ Market during a survey after the presentation of the Budget 2022 by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, October 29, 2021. — Bernama pic
Malaysians buying daily necessities at the Putrajaya Farmers’ Market during a survey after the presentation of the Budget 2022 by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, October 29, 2021. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — The Budget 2022 is the biggest yet tabled, with a RM322 billion allocation, aimed to uplift many in the community and business sectors from the ravages of Covid-19 which brought the world to its knees.

Unemployment rose at almost meteoric speed and as revealed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in Parliament, around 580,000 households which were previously in the M40 category, slipped into the B40 group owing to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which battered the nation’s economy.

Cases of domestic violence also rose in tandem and many school-going children faced accessibility issues to learning tools, after schooling was shifted online. The tourism sector also took a heavy beating due to the closure of borders and movement restrictions.

So what can we expect in 2022, as the nation continues to mount efforts to address the pandemic while rebuilding the economy and livelihoods?

To summarise the tabling by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz today, the best description would be continuity, with beefed-up initiatives to ensure the survivability of the masses.

As with the previous year, there is yet again, a long list of tax reliefs, as well as fund recovery efforts to beef up government coffers which saw an increased outflow of money to fight Covid-19.

The ‘high notes’

The government will introduce a one-off special tax for “high-income” or Cukai Makmur for companies earning RM100 million and more, to increase funds for those affected by Covid-19.

Tengku Zafrul said that the tax, which will be 24 per cent for the first RM100 million and 33 per cent for the rest above that, is to ensure that the public health system is more resilient in the face of any threats in the future.

The government is also extending the reduction of the statutory contribution rates for each Malaysian’s Employees Provident Fund (EPF) until June 2022, with contribution rates staying at 9 per cent.

RM31 billion has also been allocated for subsidies and incentives for the public in order to reduce their burden and a household with three children or with earnings less than RM2,500 will receive a RM2,000 one-off payment and this is expected to help 9.6 million households.

Frontliners, especially contract medical doctors, dentists and pharmacists also received some reprieve to their years of unemployment issues with a four-year contract extension from the initial two years, to ensure the continuity of their studies.

RM100 million has been set aside for some of them to further their education by pursuing specialist training.

Civil servants and pensioners under Grade 56 and below are set to receive a one-off special financial assistance of RM700 as an appreciation token for their contribution in the public service delivery throughout the year.

Government pensioners meanwhile are set to receive special financial assistance of RM350.

Car enthusiasts also have something to look forward to, after the government agreed to continue the passenger vehicle sales tax (SST) exemption until June next year to encourage buyers.

The exemption will now also cover completely knocked down (CKD) as well as completely built-up (CBU) multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) and sports utility vehicles (SUV).

Electric car fans or those vying to own one will also get tax exemption, under the government’s long-term plan to make Malaysia a carbon-neutral nation by 2050.

They will get to enjoy 100 per cent tax exemptions on import, excise and road taxes and individual tax exemption of RM2500 for those who purchased, rent, or have been paying to charge the vehicle while it’s being docked.

The Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) would also no longer be imposed for disposals by individual citizens, permanent residents and companies from the sixth year onwards.

Had to be done done

The government will be extending the excise duty imposed on premixed sugary beverages as well as imposing excise duty on all vape and electronic cigarettes products in order to compel Malaysians towards a healthier lifestyle.

In 2019, the National Health and Morbidity survey revealed that 50.1 per cent of Malaysian adults were obese or overweight, a figure that has been rapidly increasing in the past three decades.

The country also has the second-highest child obesity rate in children aged five to 19 in Asean with 7.1 per cent of children below the age of five being overweight, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported.

Addressing long-standing issues

Issues of period poverty, domestic violence and problems affecting the disabled were widely addressed, with commendable perks being extended.

A RM13 million allocation to beef up the police’s D11 unit which investigates sexual crimes against women and children and the free basic personal hygiene kits every month to 130,000 B40 teenage girls comes at a timely point when the issue of period poverty was leading to school dropout cases.

The government also allocated RM11 million compared to last year’s RM10 million allocation for cervical cancer screening and mammogram subsidies for women at high risk of having breast cancer

Issues revolving victims of domestic violence were also addressed, with the government pledging to increase local social support centres, and work with NGOs to increase the number of special protection homes for women, after constant calls by social workers for more active government intervention.

In September, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun said 9,015 police reports were lodged for domestic violence since the movement control order (MCO) for the Covid-19 pandemic started last year.

Tengku Zafrul also announced that RM25 million was channeled to Yayasan Keluarga Malaysia to help Covid-19 orphans, to ensure their education, safety and security needs are cared for.

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