THE Budget 2018 that was announced today is a letdown for the private sector as with the previous annual budgets, said the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC).
MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon said the worst is that the government has failed to address the burning issues of the bottom 40 (B40) and middle 40 (M40) groups.
“Annually, the budget is a letdown for private sector workers and this 2018 Budget is no different.
“The government must be reminded that in this current global economy a budget should benefit all and not a selected few; only then it will be truly an inclusive budget,” he said in a statement.
Solomon said while they welcomed some of Budget 2018 proposals, they only hope that the implementation is effective, done fairly and reaches the desired population.
MTUC have singled out eight areas in the budget that would be of concern for workers, such as housing, women welfare and empowerment, medical, transport, childcare and education.
Solomon said that the government’s budget of RM2.2 billion allocated for affordable and low cost housing is insufficient to build the 385,900 units announced by the Prime Minister Najib Razak in parliament today.
“The time frame for the completion of the number of units announced was not specified.
“Affordability remains an issue and the aspect of financing has not been addressed.”
Women welfare and empowerment
Solomon praised the government in addressing the issue of women who have been sidelined throughout the years by increasing their participation in the boards of GLCs, GLIC and statutory bodies to 30%.
“This is a good move by setting a time frame which is to be implemented by the end of 2018. This is in line with the International Labour Organisation recommendations.”
Solomon also welcomed the government’s suggestion that it should be mandatory for the private sector to increase maternity leaves from 60 days to 90 days.
“Since this is merely a suggestion, we hope that the private sector will take the note and make this their policy. But a mandatory requirement requires legislative changes to make it a reality.
“It is also encouraging that the government has taken the bold move in facilitating early departure from work for pregnant mothers of five months and above.”
On healthcare, Solomon said the allocation of RM27 billion for healthcare is encouraging because the people can now make use of government hospitals instead of spending huge amounts of money on private hospitals.
Solomon said that while they agreed with the abolishment of the four tolls they disagreed with the selection of areas.
“For example, the abolishment of toll at Bukit Kayu Hitam which is at the border up north does not address the burden of cost on people commuting to work.
“Furthermore, the cost of transportation is also not addressed. Whilst we welcome the efforts to improve the interstate and within city transport, however, other cost factors such as the cost of the transport and parking was not addressed.”
Solomon said that Malaysians, especially those in the B40 and M40 household, are paying huge amounts in direct and indirect taxes.
“Therefore, the provision of road and transport system should be the responsibility of the state and hence, there should not be any burden of tolls for Malaysians.”
Solomon said that it was a good move to issue a directive for the mandatory setting up of childcare centres in all new buildings.
“This hopefully will further motivate current employers to undertake this moral obligation towards their employees.”
Solomon said the increase in allocation for PTPTN will not address the current issues faced by the huge number of youth especially from the B40 and M40 households who are defaulters or those wishing to apply.
“It is disappointing to note that that free tertiary education for children from B40 and M40 households were not addressed in this budget.
“The 2018 Budget is merely looking at discounts for repayments. These are ways to recover what is owed and not resolving their liability. Increasing the amount that they can borrow, in the circumstance, the B40 and M40 children will be more in debt.”
Solomon said that they welcome the move for Malaysians to hire domestic workers directly from their countries while removing the need to go through an agent.
“This form of direct-employment should be extended to all migrant workers.
“But the government should also address the issue of dependency on migrant workers.”
Source : https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/20367/