THE most common question after the tabling of the 2019 Budget was: “What’s in it for me?”
First, we have to classify ourselves into one of the three income categories: B40, M40 or T20.
The Statistics Department said a B40 household earns up to RM3,000 a month, M40 up to RM6,275 a month and T20 at least RM13,148 a month.
We were told this budget would entail sacrifices. Sure enough, the T20 group and most of the M40 group have nothing much to shout about.
B40 is highlighted consistently. For instance, B40 is the target group for three focuses and 12 strategies.
RM5 billion is allocated for the Life Assistance Programme (Bantuan Sara Hidup).
B40 households registered in the e-Kasih programme get their electricity bill subsidised up to RM40 per month compared with the previous RM20.
Car and motorcycle owners of certain engine capacities are eligible for fuel subsidies of 30 sen per litre, capped monthly at 100 litres for a car and 40 litres for a motorcycle.
The infirmed are covered by medical insurance. Housewives get to receive Employees Provident Fund (iSURI). Consumers get to check prices of goods and services using the Price Catcher app and pensioners who receive up to RM1,000 a month get a one-off reward.
Contract workers get medical benefits extended to their parents. Senior citizens aged 50 and above get health screening. There are free mammogram screenings, HPV vaccination and pap smear tests for women.
Structural unemployment is said to be about 3.4 per cent, which isn’t alarming, but it needs a long-term solution to contain it.
Providing training and skills to youth will ensure that the mismatch of jobs and skills is reduced.
Employers are given incentives to hire those between 61 and 65 years old.
Ex-convicts can get jobs and the unemployed in an insurance scheme can claim losses on income.
A 2016 study on households earnning RM2,000 and below has a shocking revelation.
Some 95 per cent of their income is spent on goods and services, and only RM76 is left for contingencies.
Just imagine how one could survive in this dire situation.
The 2019 Budget addresses this by tackling public transportation costs and reviewing affordable housing prices.
The requirements to obtain housing loan are being relaxed, travelling passes are introduced, and toll charges for motorcycles are eliminated.
Schoolchildren will get textbooks, healthy food and cash.
So what is in it for me? Since I am in the M40 group, there are not many benefits for me.
But I am not complaining, because I am sacrificing for my brothers and sisters.
DR AZIZAH DAUT
Senior lecturer, Faculty of Business and Management, UiTM Johor campus, Pasir Gudang