KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 – Rising costs will be a key topic in the Dewan Rakyat before the tabling of the 2015 Budget this Friday, with lawmakers expected to raise concerns over the government’s measures to improve income levels. Parliament secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah said among the topics to be discussed were the government’s plans to bring salary levels in line with the New Economic Model’s aims of doubling the per capita income by 2020.
She said the tabling of the budget, by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, will be a highlight of the new session of parliament, which begins tomorrow. “The Budget 2015 will touch on all the government’s policies and matters to be tackled for the next year,” she said. In the last few months, Najib had called on Malaysians to contribute their ideas to help shape the budget, expressing confidence that the proposals received has helped to introduce an economic plan which would stimulate growth, improve the country’s fiscal position and raise the living standards of the people.
The budget is expected to focus heavily on the implementation and impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which comes into effect in April next year. The GST, which will be applied at a fixed rate of six per cent, had received mixed reactions, with the public mainly concerned that it will affect living costs. In addition to the GST, the Dewan Rakyat is also expected to discuss the impact of the latest round of fuel subsidy cuts, as well as measures to help the public cope with increasing prices such as the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) and the 1Malaysia Housing Programme (PR1MA).
Another hot topic of debate would be issues affecting racial and religious unity – in particular, the use and status of the Sedition Act 1948, and the growing threat of extremist groups such as the Islamic State (IS). Another highlight will be the new dynamics of the opposition bench where the member of parliament for Gombak, Azmin Ali will be returning to the house as the newly-appointed Selangor Menteri Besar.
A vocal and active member of the house, it will be interesting to see how he will be juggling his role as a menteri besar, an MP, and an assemblyman. Observers may also be interested in Azmin’s interactions with his predecessor, former Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who has said that he will continue serving the people as an independent MP for Bandar Tun Razak.
Two bills namely the Cooperative Commission of Malaysia (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (Amendment) Bill 2014 would be tabled for its second and third reading after being postponed from the last sitting. The third meeting of the second term in the 13th Parliament of the Dewan Rakyat will be held for 28 days. The Dewan Negara or Senate is set to meet for 12 days from Dec 1.