Wednesday, October 28, 2009

7 things youth should know about the 2010 Budget

1. Useless background trivia!

The 2010 Budget is the final budget of the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP), a comprehensive blueprint laid out by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in 2006, under former PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Some trivia: 4 years ago, two men were caught peddling ganja in one of the EPU building's stairwells.

Next year's budget - totalling RM191.5 billion - is Najib's first, as PM; he is styling it as "a precursor to the 10th Malaysian Plan". Eager to show us he's got what it takes to be a recession-time premier, Najib wants Malaysia to "advance to a high-income economy", and "shift to a new economic model based on innovation".

Well, well. Tell us something we haven't heard before, Mr PM.

2. Income tax reductions! (yeah!!)

Income tax is how much the gov'mint shaves off your hard-earned salary. The 2010 Budget arrived with some good news in this respect: personal income tax relief is set to rise from RM8,000 to RM9,000; the maximum income tax rate gets a 1% reduction, from 27% to 26%.

All these means, theoretically, more cash for you to spend. The tax relief part seems mighty fine: If you earn RM30,000 a year, you get taxed as if you earned RM21,000. Wow, what great savings, right?

But the 2010 change itself is nothing to shout about. Do the math: out of that advertised RM1,000 figure, you'd really be saving, at most, a coupla hundred bucks -- and you stand to benefit more from this if you were earning more to begin with.

Which leads us to the maximum tax rate part. This percentile reduction only affects the highest income bracket of Malaysians - those who earn above RM100,000 a year, the proverbial fat cats - as these are the people from whom a maximum income tax can be levied.

All in all: YAY!!! from the captains of industry and their high-flying lifestyles. A much more modest cheer from the rest of us.

3. No increase on alcohol and cigarettes! (waht the hack??)--is PM oso smoke and drink r?

Conspicuously absent from Najib's 2010 Budget is the obligatory sin tax on commodities like alcohol and cigarettes - so you may rest easy in the knowledge that your vice of choice is merely astronomically expensive.

Still, remember that the government raised excise duty on cigarettes by 1 sen a stick earlier this month. And that wasn't the first time such hikes have been ninja-ed in. There was no rise in the Budget 2008 sin tax either - but cigarettes had already become more expensive a few months earlier, in July 2007.

4. A host of goodies for students! (yahoo!!)

If you are a student in tertiary education, you stand to benefit a fair bit from the 2010 Budget:

* 30 National Scholarships for the best of the best, "strictly based on merit";
* Conversion of PTPTN loans to scholarships for students who graduate with 1st-class honours;
* Netbook schemes (including free broadband service) to university students.

These seem like good things, actually. Hopefully, they get carried out effectively.

5. Better broadband!

Finally, an answer to our slow Internet woes!

If you pay taxes, you may be eligible for tax relief on broadband subscription fees of up to RM500 a year, from 2010 to 2012. There's going to be RM11.3 billion pumped into implementing high-speed broadband, too.

According to Najib, we can expect 10Mbps-speeds in the Klang Valley by March 2010. If not - well, it's not like we expect anyone to take responsibility for it ...

6. Cash for the creative industry!

You artsy types: rejoice! The 2010 Budget promises real nice RM200 million for the Malaysian creative industry, to boost "film, drama, music productions, animation, advertisements and local content production".

That's the most noteworthy of a 3-pronged approach the government is taking to encourage creative growth. It also seeks to formulate a Creative Industry Policy; and will establish a Tabung Kebajikan Penggiat Seni, "to ensure the welfare of artists", with a launching grant of RM3 million.

How these initiatives will be implemented is a big question, though. There's no consolidated data on the Malaysian creative industry, at the moment. And it's an open secret that, when times are bad, funding for the arts has traditionally been the first to go ...

7. Say goodbye to your credit cards!
(what the hell?)--but nvm i dnt have any yet :p

"To promote prudent spending", the government is going to levy an RM50 service charge for each of your principal credit cards, and RM25 on every supplementary card - regardless whether you are in debt or not. Be prepared to set a pair of scissors on some of your plastic.

There's been opposition to this, unsurprisingly. Number-crunching DAP member of parliament Tony Pua is arguing against the credit-card charge; Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has decried the tax as yet another burden on the rakyat.


Najib asserts that the Malaysian GDP will only fall 3%, better than previous projections of a 4% or 5% decrease. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the Malaysian government debt averages at an estimated RM20,700 per citizen -- a burden young Malaysians will inherit.

The only people genuinely optimistic with Bajet 2010 are our dear friends, the (fictitious) Malaysian pornographers.