Cost of living, housing key focus in BN manifesto

The prime minister says the manifesto will be a living document


The Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition will focus on reducing the cost of living and bring more affordable housing schemes to the people under its election manifesto if it wins the 14th General Election (GE14).

If the coalition is given the mandate for the next five years, BN chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak promised to introduce 364 initiatives to all Malaysians.

Among them are a range of housing schemes catering to all Malaysians, higher financial aid via the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) and an array of freebies for the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers.

Najib, accompanied by BN component party leaders and some 20,000 party supporters clad in blue, launched the 220page manifesto, themed “With BN for a Greater Malaysia”, at the Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil, on Saturday.

The prime minister said the manifesto would be a living document. As a testament, he said the ruling coalition had fulfiled about 99.4% of its 2013 election manifesto.

“Against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, falling oil prices and the devaluation of the ringgit, we have fulfiled close to 99.4% of the past election promises, with the remaining currently in the process of completion,” he said.

In light of evolving global trend and domestic economic growth, the 341 initiatives manifesto aims to position Malaysia and its citizens on par globally.

The other initiatives promised in the manifesto are:

• Facilitating the process for single women in securing loans by permitting the combination of incomes with siblings or parents who fulfil eligibility requirements.

• Encouraging women to generate secondary incomes by easing microcredit loan requirements for women entrepreneurs who conduct businesses part-time.

• Granting tax exemptions on housing rental income.

• Establishing a special bank to facilitate loans for affordable and low-cost housing priced RM300,000 and below.

• Providing tax incentives or development funds to encourage banks and housing developers to offer rent-to-own schemes.

• Introducing a single entity to synchronise all affordable housing initiatives, including the monitoring of construction work.

• Ending the policy of Bumiputera lot discounts for property valued at RM1 million and above.

• Speeding up the development of the Malaysian Vision Valley, a 150,000ha area that is projected to create 1.3 million job opportunities.

• Introducing the TN50 Public Transport Pass (costing between RM50 and RM150) that gives unlimited monthly access to public transport for students, working youths, senior citizens and the disabled.

• Building an electrified railway line from Subang Jaya to the Subang Skypark Terminal as part of the integration of railway transportation.

• Reducing the cost of employing foreign domestic workers by introducing an Online Domestic Helper System.

• Continuing efforts to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector to assist Chinese entrepreneurs by strengthening the role and function of the Secretariat for the Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurs.

• Supporting food-truck businesses by creating special areas for them to do business and instituting programmes for vehicle modification.

• Enhancing the contribution of SMEs to the national economy through digital transformation by providing grants and credit guarantee opportunities to expand access to new international markets.

• Providing a one-off assistance of RM1,500 for the children of BR1M recipients that enrol in higher education institutes.

• New category for BR1M recipient with a household income of between RM4,000 and RM5,000 to receive a total of RM700 in two tranches this year.

• Existing BR1M recipients to receive RM2,000 aid this year, higher than the initial RM1,200.

• Raising the minimum wage in phases to at least RM1,500 within five years.

• Providing a special incentive of RM5,000 to every Felda settler.

• Creating a special grant for replantation worth up to RM7,500 per ha for each qualified Felda settler in the next five years starting 2018. This grant is to reduce up to 70% replantation debt of Felda settlers.

• Writing-off the Felda settlers’ debt from the purchase of shares in Felda Global Ventures Bhd.

• Allocating a special fund worth up to RM300 million to write-off extraordinary or extreme debt of all qualified Felda settlers for the next five years starting in 2018.

• Intensifying the Felda 2.0 initiative via 15 plans for 2018 and 2019 with an allocation of RM300 million to create a smart community and sustainable local economy.

• Enhancing the wellbeing of employees of government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies who earn RM2,500 and below through expanded insurance coverage, increased healthcare benefits and increased cost of living allowance.

• Reducing the maximum limit on interest rates and late payment charges for credit cards.

• Revising individual and corporate income tax rates to ensure Malaysia remains competitive in the regional market.