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Budget 2018: What can we expect?

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With the 14th General Election looming, Budget 2018, also known as the election budget is set to provide the Barisan Nasional the “wow” factor it needs to capture the hearts of voters.

Everyone is hoping for some good news tomorrow when PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak presents it in parliament.

Many research institutes believe the budget, themed “Shaping the Future” is expected to lay the foundation for TN50, while those more politically aligned strongly believe it is going to be totally geared towards helping the BN win votes.

As with the current political landscape and realignments, we can expect some emphasis to win over the support of the Malay community and political analysts believe the budget will be geared towards making this support base stronger.

The shift in Malay voters will not come without a price and the PM is strongly expected to throw in some goodies for this group in return for their support, come the general election.

The 1.6 million civil servants in the country can certainly expect some good news as earlier announced by Najib.

Salaries for the civil service were last raised between 7 and 13 percent in 2012.

Also, as stated by Deputy Minister in the PM’s Department Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, tahfiz schools in the country can also look forward to more aid being channeled to them, while allowances for imams and those in the forefront of upholding Islam can also expect some goodies.

Under Najib’s administration, those in this category had their allowances increased thrice already.

BR1M handouts look set to continue with the allocation possibly hitting RM7.5 billion from the RM6.8 billion spent this year, while the minimum wage will also likely be reviewed.

Najib had recently announced that some 80,000 non-pensionable armed forces veterans above 60 years will also receive payouts under BR1M.

Felda has for years been a strong vote bank for BN and in July, Najib announced a package of six incentives for more than 110,000 settler families worth RM1.59 billion.

He also announced numerous housing projects in Langkawi, a religious school in Penang and two new hospitals in Kelantan.

Housing has constantly been an issue with the rakyat and in view of this, the allocations to develop affordable housing for 2018 will also likely be raised, while education would also be a key focus of the government in raising productivity in its bid to become a high-income nation.

Since crude oil prices have recovered to above US$50 per barrel, there are also hopes on the government to review and cut the GST rate, to appease the rakyat ahead of the impending general election.

Middle income earners could get tax breaks as Najib looks to soften the blow from rising living costs. The last tax cut announced by the government was in 2014.

He had earlier reiterated that the government will continue to focus on the people’s economy, aside from addressing the need to balance the country with macro factors.

The government is unlikely to raise sin taxes for the tobacco, brewery and gaming sectors as further increase in taxes will only divert the trades to smugglers and underground operators.

Overall, there should be something for everyone this Friday and the budget would likely continue to be people-centric, and focus on developing the wellbeing of the rakyat to ease the burden of the rising cost of living.

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