PETALING JAYA: There is mixed reaction to the 2017 Budget announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak on Friday.

While the public generally welcomes the government subsidies for essentials, consumer groups say this practice of dishing out subsidies should be monitored thoroughly by the government.

Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) representative Datuk Nadzim Johan Johar said the act of continuously giving out subsidies is not the best way as it affects taxpayers in the long term.

“As the government keeps giving out subsidies, along with BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia), it needs to monitor the situation because there are those who aren’t eligible who may benefit too,” he said when contacted today.

He cited as an example Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani’s statement inMingguan Malaysia on people who have been known to sell subsidised cooking oil outside of the country, resulting in the government losing RM540 million annually.

Johari said the government had subsidised 85,000 tonnes of cooking oil, which falls under the controlled items scheme.

Under the new budget, RM10 billion fuel subsidies have been channelled towards cooking gas, toll charges and public transport.

A RM1.3 billion allocation to subsidise rice, seeds and fertilisers including hill paddy was also added to the list.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), while welcoming the government’s decision to subsidise prices of cooking gas, toll and public transportation for the people, expressed disappointment that there are no benefits for private-sector employees.

Its secretary-general N. Gopal Kishnam said the contributions of private-sector employees are also important to the growth of the economy and should not have been sidelined.

He said among the issues not included in the budget are the request to increase minimum wage to RM1,200 nationwide and a RM300 cost-of-living allowance for private-sector employees.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) had reportedly said it hopes the new income tax scheme designed for companies from next year will address retrenchment issues in the country.

MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said as the tax reduction would be related to the company’s performance, this would help the company be more profitable and manage their human resources operations more efficiently to increase productivity.

He said with the tax reduction, companies would be motivated to upgrade skills and technologies to improve productivity. http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2013027