The much awaited Budget 2018 was finally tabled in parliament last week by Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak. It was no secret that this highly anticipated and much talked about budget is important given that general elections is just around the corner. Of course over the weekend there were plenty of talk on the matter. The public, the opposition, and economic and political analysts alike all have an opinion of the 2018 budget.
So how did Budget 2018 fare? Did it manage to appease ordinary Malaysians enough to win over their precious votes? In general there seem to be mixed feelings. Average Malaysians praised the government for urging the private sector to introduce 90 days maternity leave if they have not done so already. This would be in-line with the present government practice for civil servants. Yet some private sector employers are complaining that the additional maternity leave days would accrue more costs for them. Meanwhile, the government’s move to provide a 20 percent discount for those who fully settle their outstanding National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan was met with mixed reactions as well. The government’s announcement to abolish four tolls were welcomed by road users but many still felt that more tolls should be removed, particularly tolls in the Klang Valley. These are just a few examples that have garnered responses from the public.
There were a slew of other incentives announced by the government as well, which has either been well received or criticized depending on who you talk to. This is undoubtedly an election-friendly budget. It is evident that the government is keen to win over as many voters as possible especially in key states such as Selangor, Kedah and Johor. Will Budget 2018 achieve this goal? It is hard to tell whether it will have a major impact or just a minute one. We will only know once the polling results are announced.