Budget of no significance to many

KUCHING: No matter who you talk to, the general consensus is that the Budget 2009 would be of no significance if it does not solve the people’s bread and butter issues.

It’s also not wrong to say that most people did not tune in to watch the Prime Minister table the budget on Friday.

They only skimmed newspapers and glimpsed the nightly news, looking out for new measures to curb rising cost of living.

Those who thesundaypost spoke to yesterday, including restaurant managers, shopkeepers and especially those from the lower income group, all agreed that the economy was slowing down and they were unsure whether the budget could help improve situation.

Andrew Chan, a restaurateur, said incentives such as the reduction of import duties for consumer durables was not going to bring much difference to those in the food business.

“We only buy these items once. What is more important is to look into ways to reduce the cost of daily essentials such as petrol, gas, and cooking oil,” he said.

He said since the fuel price hike, his business had reduced by half of what it used to be due to poorer spending power and increase in price of raw materials.

Chan felt that the incentives highlighted were not going to help him much and he believed that they would also not narrow the gap between the rich and the poor people in the state.

Suzy, on the other hand was not aware of the budget.

However she hoped that the budget would include ways to control the price of essential items.

The 21 year-old lass from Padawan said her salary as a shop assistant was below RM1,000 and she had to take care of six siblings without any aid from the government.

For Lucy Lau, 22, a hardware store owner, she felt that the incentives announced was not going to benefit her business. Instead, it could lead to poorer business in her shop.

“We do sell cigarettes here and we make a few hundred ringgit from them every month. With the increased price of cigarettes now, I feel that we will be making less profit this time,” she said, adding that the fuel price hike was already affecting her business.

Sim Poh Kiaw, 25, meanwhile felt that the budget should place more emphasis on improving infrastructure rather than welfare.

“Welfare assistance will only benefit a limited group of people, while improved infrastructure will benefit more people as we all depend on such facilities in our daily lives,” she said.

She felt that Sarawak was not getting enough attention in as far as public facilities were concerned, such as public transportation, “which is way behind that in Peninsular Malaysia”.

She however said there was nothing much Sarawak could do about it as Peninsular Malaysia had always received more for the purpose.

Abdul Rauf, 25, and Irwan Mosli, 30, said they disappointed because there was nothing said about a higher minimum wage.

“We work in a shop for up to 10 hours a day for a salary of RM700 a month. What can we do with that sort of money,” Rauf lamented.

He said that petrol alone had gone up to RM300 a month, and the balance for payment of bills.

“There is nothing left.”

Irwan on the other hand was hoping for more goodies, in the form of subsidies, rather than infrastructure development.

“This way many people will benefit rather than a certain group of people.”

By Yu Ji & Vijaya Menon
Borneo Post
31/08/08

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