Malaysia’s Budget 2020 was tabled on 11 October 2019; and with it comes a whole slew of planned allocations that seek to address the many complaints and issues that have accumulated over the years. With approximately RM297 billion (US$69 billion) of investment planned, sectors and industries across the board are expected to gain in some way.
Much emphasis has been placed in education, SMEs, and digital growth. Economically vulnerable groups were also a key focus of the budget allocation, with long-term goals being aimed at elevating the living standards in line with the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 for inclusive growth.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the budget was not only aimed at improving the country’s economy but also people’s welfare like providing job opportunities, ensuring women’s wellbeing and placing more emphasis on education and religious institutions.
With the theme of ‘Driving Growth And Equitable Outcomes Towards Shared Prosperity’, Budget 2020 is anchored by four key thrusts:
- Investing in Malaysians: Levelling up human capital
- Creating a united, inclusive, and equitable society
- Revitalisation of public institutions and finances
- Driving economic growth in the new economy and digital era
There were several HR and manpower related developments discussed under each thrust. Some of these developments are as follows:
- The Government will be launching the Malaysians@Work initiative, aimed at simultaneously creating better employment opportunities for youth and women and reducing our over-dependence on low-skilled foreign workers. Malaysians@Work is divided into four programmes directed at providing both wage incentives for workers and hiring incentives for employers.
- The Malaysians@Work initiatives will, for the most part, be managed by the EPF, whereby the wage incentives will be credited into their EPF account. This initiative will subsequently integrated with the Employment Insurance System (EIS) as well as other active labour market programmes. The Government anticipates that the Malaysians@ Work initiative will cost RM6.5bn over five years and create an additional 350,000 jobs for Malaysians and reduce foreign workers dependency by more than 130,000.
- The government will also be take more measures to improve the working conditions for women and parents in general. An additionally RM30 million will be allocated in 2020 to focus on hospital and schools. In addition, to ease the financial burden of parents who enrol their children in registered nurseries and kindergartens, individual tax relief for fees paid will be increased from RM1,000 to RM2,000.
- The government will be reviewing the Employment Act 1955 in an effort to remain relevant and to meet the current needs of the employment market. Some of the ideas put forth include increasing maternity leave from 60 to 90 days effective 2021, and extending the eligibility to overtime from those earning less RM2,000 to those earning less than RM4,000 per month.
- Enhancements will be made to the existing social mechanisms for social protection of workers. This includes the extension of EPF coverage to contract workers, for those under Contract for Services and Professionals. The current Self-Employment Social Security Scheme by the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) will be expanded to enable contributions by other self-employed groups across 18 key sectors, such as fishermen, farmers, sole proprietors and partnerships.
These are just a few highlights of the many solutions tabled. “We have to work to bring the changes we promised the people, and no matter how hard, we have to work. So far, many reactions received are generally positive,” said Minister Lim.