First Impressions of Budget 2024
Budget 2024 with the theme of "Reforming the Economy, Empowering the Rakyat" was the biggest budget ever tabled at RM393.8 billion. Benedict Weerasena, Research Director of Bait Al Amanah weighed in on the Budget 2024 with Astro Awani, immediately after it was tabled in Parliament.
Key points highlighted included:
A commitment to an Open Economy through the Malaysia Visa Liberalization Plan, increasing ease of Visa on Arrival, relaxing the conditions for MM2H and also the Long-Term Social Visit Pass for international students.
A clear commitment to principles of the Market Economy through the removal of price ceiling on eggs and chicken, and allowing market dynamics to play their role in regulating demand and supply which will ensure the continuity of supply of eggs and chicken in the long run.
A balance of short-term and long-term goals, especially seen in the education allocations, where a Trust Fund was set up for underprivileged students to address immediate gaps, while RM100 million was allocated for holistic remedial measures to overcome learning losses during the pandemic, in what is seen as a medium-term initiative with long term implications.
However, the Budget does miss the mark in terms of instituting much-needed reforms to increase the efficiency of program implementation. In the status quo, there is critical fragmentation and overlapping of programs and agencies; for instance, 17 agencies provide 170 social assistance programs which creates an unintended consequence of target groups receiving overlapping assistance, while others fall through the gaps as a result of exclusion error. In Budget 2024, this critical challenge continues with the fragmentation of Poverty Eradication programmes, such as the Sumbangan Tunai Rahmah (STR) or Cash Donation Program, Sumbangan Asas Rahmah (SARA), programs under the Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (JKM) which will also overlap with State Government poverty eradication programs.
The full recording of the media interview can be viewed here.