PETALING JAYA: Tony Pua says the Budget 2018 announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak today contains no meaningful reforms in terms of economic policies and ways to end corruption and wastage, but instead pushes the burden on the people.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP said while declaring that the projected budget deficit for 2018 will be down to 2.8%, from the estimated 3% this year, the prime minister is only achieving this via taxes.

“Despite the massive increase in government revenues resulting from the goods and services tax (GST), there is no reprieve for individual and corporate income tax payers.

“Ordinary Malaysians will be forced to bear increasing higher tax contributions, whether it is via GST, individual or corporate income taxes,” Pua said in his analysis of the national budget proposal announced by the prime minister in the Dewan Rakyat today.

The DAP national publicity secretary also targeted the growing operating expenditure, comparing the rate of growth in Budget 2018 against the same in recent years.

“There is a significant increase in the operating expenditure which is expected to increase by RM14.4 billion to RM234.3 billion in 2018.

“In contrast, the increase was only RM9.7 billion or 4.6% in 2017, while in 2016, the operating expenditure actually reduced by 3.1%.”

Pua added that at the proposed rate in Budget 2018, the operating expenditure in proportion to total expenditure will increase to 83.6%, which according to him is the highest in Malaysian budget history.

“This proves that the Najib administration has not seriously implemented policies to impose prudence in spending.

“Instead, it is relying almost entirely on increasing taxes to balance its books instead of cutting wastage, eliminating corruption and reducing the cost of government.”

Today, Najib proposed a 2% decrease in income tax rates for taxable income up to RM70,000 per annum.

However, Pua said for 2018, individual income tax collection for the government was expected to increase by another 7.1% to RM32.2 billion, according to Najib’s speech.

“That compares with the individual income tax contributions increase by 9.2% to RM30.1 billion for this year.

“It lends credence to the widespread discontent against the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) for their heavy-handed tactics in squeezing substantially higher tax contributions from individuals and businesses.

“Some have even termed LHDN’s tactics as ‘tax terrorism’ by demanding, with hardly any room for negotiation, backdated taxes of up to 10 years,” Pua said, referring to the projected increase in corporate tax revenue by 6.9% to RM72.5 billion for 2018.

He contended that the above increases in individual and corporate income taxes are disproportionately higher than the 4-5% economic growth rates for Malaysia.-FMT NEWS-

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