Govt to sell stakes in non-strategic firms, auction land

Govt will monetise some of its holdings in non-critical, non- strategic companies in an orderly fashion

By NG MIN SHEN / Graphic By TMR

Thy government plans to dispose of stakes in non-strategic companies and auction pieces of land based on the highest bids to boost the country income and ensure Putrajaya achieves the 2.8% fiscal deficit target this year.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said two new committees — Public Finance Committee (PFC) and Tax Reform Committee (TRC) — will be established to help the administration achieve its financial goals, fiscal consolidation without hurting the country’s economic growth and the people’s wellbeing.

“To augment these measures, the federal government will monetise some of its holdings in non-critical, non-strategic companies in an orderly fashion, while engaging in planned and scheduled public auction of state land.

“Previously, these land assets were often sold at steep discounts to politically connected entities under opaque arrangements, which had deprived the federal government of additional revenues,” Lim said in a statement.

Lim will chair the PFC, which will be responsible to outline the government’s medium-term fiscal plans.

“I will be joined by the economic affairs minister and the governor of Bank Negara Malaysia. It will be the platform to balance out the needs for fiscal consolidation and for the government to spend in order to raise the living standards of the rakyat, while contributing to future economic growth,” he said in a statement.

TRC will assess the country’s taxation system holistically and make it more efficient, neutral and progressive without burdening the rakyat, while promoting long-term productivity of the economy.

The committee will also study measures to minimise tax leakages and tax evasion.

From a macro perspective, the government will ensure the domestic environment is stable to support further growth, although like other emerging markets, the domestic capital market and the ringgit are affected by global events.

The Finance Ministry is further engaging with relevant stakeholders to solicit input for Budget 2019, which will be tabled in Parliament on Nov 2, 2019.

A series of focus group meetings have been scheduled from August to September 2018

to gather views and recommendations on specific issues including the domestic work-force, quality of the education system, sustainable development and living costs among the urban poor.

“Yesterday, I chaired the first focus group meeting to discuss ways to improve public finance. We shared views on means to strengthen the federal government’s fiscal position by diversifying its revenue sources, optimising its expenditure and rationalising its large RM1.09 trillion debt and liabilities,” Lim said.

Malaysians are invited to contribute ideas and suggestions for Budget 2019 via the website, which will take suggestions from Aug 28 to Sept 30.

Views can also be shared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by using the hashtag #belanjawan2019.