Budget 2008 : Gearing nation for the next 50 years

Gearing nation for the next 50 years

BUDGET 2008 is a happy one where everyone got something and no extra tax was introduced as even the smokers and drinkers were spared.

Designed to propel the country into becoming a competitive global player, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the budget was to improve the quality of life of every Malaysian.

The Prime Minister said the main thrust of the Budget was aimed at enhancing the nation’s competitiveness, strengthening hu-man capital development and ensuring the well-being of all Malaysians.

He said a total of RM12bil has been allocated to implement the Higher Education Strategic Plan, launched on Aug 27 this year.

“This Plan aims to transform the higher education sector to produce highly knowledgeable and first-class human capital as well as develop world-class higher education institutions,” he said.

To promote a culture of lifelong learning among Malaysians, the Government proposes tax relief of up to RM5,000 on education fees be extended to all post-graduate studies.

A huge amount of money has been allocated to enhance knowledge and skills under the human capital development plan, while significant improvements have been announced to the public delivery system.

Special day: Abdullah being greeted by his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as he arrives in Parliament House to present the 2008 Budget on Friday. Looking on is Ong.

Abdullah said this Budget, themed Together Building The Nation and Sharing Prosperity, was particularly significant as it was the first as the country entered its second 50 years as an independent nation.

He added that it also reflected the Govern-ment’s aspiration to see the nation’s wealth continue to grow and benefit all.

“Only in this way will our economic development be meaningful, with all Malaysians living in prosperity and harmony,” said Abdullah when tabling the Supply Bill 2008 at Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

A sum of RM176.9bil is being appropriated in the 2008 Budget, representing a 10.9% increase compared with 2007. Of this, RM128.8bil is for operating expenditure and RM48.1bil for development expenditure.

Abdullah said the largest allocation of RM20.6bil from the development expenditure would be for the economic sector comprising agriculture, industry and infrastructure sectors.

“A sum of RM15.6bil is allocated to the social sector encompassing education, health and housing. The security sector is given RM7bil,” he added

He said the budget deficit this year would be 3.2% and next year it would be further reduced to 3.1%.

He said a total of RM12bil has been allocated to implement the Higher Education Strategic Plan, launched on Aug 27 this year.

“This Plan aims to transform the higher education sector to produce highly knowledgeable and first-class human capital as well as develop world-class higher education institutions,” he said.

To promote a culture of lifelong learning among Malaysians, the Government proposes tax relief of up to RM5,000 on education fees be extended to all post-graduate studies.

Abdullah said that despite an uncertain global and regional economic outlook, the 2008 Budget’s strategy and policies would ensure the nation’s growth prospects would continue to remain strong, with growth projected between 6% and 6.5% in 2008.

Private investment is expected to expand at 9.5% and private consumption at 7.9%. Per capita income is projected to increase by 6.8% to RM23,864 and in terms of purchasing power, parity equivalent to US$14,206.

The services sector is expected to grow at 8.6%, underpinned by tourism, transportation, finance and banking, property, education, health and ICT activities.

The agriculture sector is projected to grow 3.5% and focus will be given to the commercialisation of the plantation and livestock sectors.

“When Malaysia attains Vision 2020 and achieves developed nation status, it will be yet another glorious moment in the history of our nation’s economic development,” Abdullah said.

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