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'People to expect more benefits in 2013 Budget'


WISH LIST: Malaysians likely to seek economic stability amid eurozone crisis, say experts

 KUALA LUMPUR: INCENTIVES for the hardcore poor, increased benefits for the civil and private sectors as well as measures to increase sustainable economic growth.

These were  likely to be among the rakyat's wish list when the 2013 Budget was  tabled, experts said yesterday.

Universiti Sains Malaysia's School of Social Science deputy dean, Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, said at the heart of the 2013 Budget would be the eurozone crisis, as Malaysia could also be affected.

"The budget needs to explore initiatives, especially for those  below the poverty line as they would be hit hardest by any potential crisis," he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

He said the previous budget initiatives such as the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) and Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M) should be continued, besides introducing more benefits for single parents and the needy.

Sivamurugan also said groups like the civil and private sectors needed to be looked after as they could also be affected by the economic crisis.

"Workers, especially those with large families and schoolgoing children, will want reassurances from the government. Infrastructure development can take a back seat for now.  The government should focus on improving its services."
Political analyst Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, from Universiti Utara Malaysia, said he expected the new budget to continue reflecting the government's strategy of "giving back to the people".
He agreed with Sivamurugan that the economic crisis would  have a bearing on the outcome of the budget.

"The government needs to study the economic factors closely before tabling the budget  to ensure that we can survive any potential crisis."

Meanwhile, non-governmental organisations said they would be sending their suggestions to the Finance Ministry following an announcement by Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah welcoming feedback on the matter.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) raised three key concerns which it hoped would be addressed in the next budget.

Its chief executive officer, Datuk Paul Selvarajah, said the government should address the increasing food prices.

"As a nation, we need to find means to become more self-reliant such as growing our own food."

He said the public transportation system, especially buses, also needed to be improved as it was  lacking in several areas.

"Public transport, not just in Kuala Lumpur but all around the country, needs to have better connectivity for the ease of consumers."

 Selvarajah also urged the government to maintain the country's current healthcare plan.

"Improvements are welcome, but no major changes should be introduced as consumers are satisfied with the current plan."

The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) said it would only raise suggestions to the ministry after a meeting with its members.

Its finance secretary, Ja'apar Mansor, said Cuepacs would take into consideration all feedback provided by members before submitting a detailed proposal to the ministry.

"We are  conducting a workshop to discuss issues like salary revision and will have a proper meeting in the coming days to decide what issues to raise to  the government.
"We need to be sensitive to everyone's needs in this matter."

Ahmad Husni had, on Sunday, welcomed suggestions from various parties on the drafting of the 2013 Budget, as it would ensure that the concerns of all segments of the population were addressed.
He had said he would also be meeting with academicians, professional bodies, think tanks and media practitioners to get their feedback.

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