KUCHING, Sept 21 — The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sarawak (ACCCIS) hopes that Sarawak would be given a larger allocation in the national Budget 2021, which is scheduled to be tabled in Parliament this Nov 6.
ACCCIS secretary-general Jonathan Chai believes that a larger allocation for Sarawak is ‘justified’ in view of the urgent need to expedite the development of its infrastructure and Internet connectivity, which has been found wanting.
He recalled that Budget 2020, tabled last year by the federal government under then-Pakatan Harapan (PH) rule, had allocated RM53.4 million to Sabah, which was ‘grossly unfair’ in comparison with Sarawak’s RM32 million.
Nonetheless, this budget also marked the first time that the federal provisions for Sarawak and Sabah had doubled since 1969.
“ACCCIS urges the Ministry of Finance to revise such allocations (for Sarawak) in the coming budget,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday when asked about his expectations for Budget 2021.
Chai said the business community would look forward to the government coming up with additional economic stimulus packages to help keep businesses afloat.
He said due to the impact from the Covid-19 pandemic, the business sector was still far from resuming to normal even with the implementation of various economic stimulus measures.
“It would be especially helpful if the government could extend the Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP) for another six months,” he suggested, seeing that the WSP had ‘rescued a lot of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from being forced to close down and consequently, this had helped many employees keep their jobs’.
He also hoped that the government would reduce or revise the personal and corporate income tax rates for the fiscal year under review, with regard to the ‘current deteriorating economy’.
“Even a ‘tax holiday’ would be deemed imperative in reviving our economy.” Chai said the ACCCIS wanted to propose a maximum cap on income tax for a resident individual at 20 per cent, in anticipation of the challenges ahead.
He called upon the government to review the corporate tax treatment for any SME (a resident company incorporated in Malaysia with a paid-up capital of up to RM2.5 million) so that the first chargeable income of RM600,000 — subject to the concessionary income tax rate — could be reduced from 17 per cent to 15 per cent, while the remaining chargeable income to be taxed at 20 per cent.
“Any reduction of tax rate will help reduce the costs of business operations and ease the cash flow problem experienced by business operators under such extraordinary circumstances,” added Chai.
Last month, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the 2021 Budget would focus on providing high-quality education, creating jobs, fulfilling careers, improving access to quality healthcare and supporting entrepreneurial endeavours for youths.
He underlined the empowering of youths as a key element in the budget’s formulation.
It is said that Budget 2021 would cover four broad themes — caring for the people, steering the economy, sustainable living and enhancing the delivery of public services. — Borneo Post Online