Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim today announced several additional initiatives in Budget 2023.
Anwar, who is also the finance minister, when tabling the Supply Bill 2023 or the national budget for a second reading in the Dewan Negara, said the additional initiatives involved Aidilfitri assistance, an extension of individual tax relief, and the provision of housing credit through Syarikat Jaminan Kredit Perumahan (SJKP).
"Given the current situation... I looked into the cohorts which had not benefitted from the previous initiatives and found that they were still struggling, especially during Ramadan and Aidilfitri.
"So the government has agreed to give another RM200 in the special Aidilfitri assistance to 850,000 rubber smallholders, padi farmers and fishermen, in addition to what was announced before. This will cost RM170 million," he said.
Anwar said the increase was the biggest allocation for aid that the government had ever given to fishermen, padi farmers and rubber smallholders.
In Budget 2023 tabled on Feb 24, the government announced a special Aidilfitri assistance of RM300 per month for fishermen, RM200 per month for rice farmers for a period of three months per season, as well as increased the monsoon contributions from RM600 to RM800 for a period of four months for rubber smallholders.
Anwar today said that 200,000 volunteers under the Malaysian Volunteer Department, Civil Defence Force, as well as police and fire volunteers, will also receive RM300 for Aidilfitri.
He also announced the extension of individual income tax relief of up to RM8,000 for net savings in the National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN) until 2024.
"This was decided after hearing the public concerns and complaints made to the government (after yesterday’s announcement). This will incur losses of RM250 million per year in the government’s revenue, but will benefit approximately 400,000 taxpayers," he said.
Yesterday, Deputy Finance Minister Steven Sim was quoted as saying that starting this year, taxpayers who contribute to the SSPN will no longer be eligible to claim individual tax relief of up to RM8,000.
The prime minister also announced that starting April 1 this year, the government will expand the target of the SJKP housing credit to fixed and irregular income groups to have their first home.
Under Budget 2023, the SJKP housing credit scheme was improved through the increase of financing guarantee fund from RM3 billion to RM5 billion to help first-time home buyers, especially those with no fixed income.
Anwar said the government would also give priority to the filling of public service positions in critical sectors, especially health and education.
He said this is expected to involve an additional expenditure of up to RM800 million this year.