by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by TMR FILE
BAIT al-Amanah and the Institute for Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (INSAP) are hoping that the government would prioritise the development in Sabah and Sarawak by providing equitable federal budget allocation to both states.
This was raised during the Budget 2022 Online Stakeholders’ Roundtable.
In a joint statement yesterday, Bait Al-Amanah and INSAP said in pursuing balanced growth and inclusiveness, it is imperative to improve basic infrastructure for accessibility, including electricity, Internet access and transportation facilities in rural East Malaysia.
“Furthermore, we believe in the need to boost investment in downstream activities of higher value-added industries towards greater economic opportunities and job creation in Sabah and Sarawak,” they added.
To ensure gender empowerment is taken into account, gender-responsive budgeting should also be expected in Budget 2022.
“We call for higher financial investment in support services for local domestic violence victims and efforts to combat gender-based violence as part of a holistic disaster management response,” they said, adding that it also includes giving the disabled digital access in education and employment, among others.
Bait al-Amanah and INSAP called for an expansion of upskilling, reskilling and education programmes for women to improve employment opportunities.
They also hoped for a civil reform against complacency and mediocrity as well as moving towards a greater commitment, efficiency, pro-activeness and integrity in the public procurement system towards transparency and accountability.
“We are in dire need to reform failed or inefficient government-linked companies, to push for greater meritocracy and boost competitiveness,” they added.
As Malaysia is recovering from the Covid-19 crisis, Budget 2022 should include more holistic incentives.
Hence, the two parties urged the government to extend the wage subsidy programme and provide more grants and funding support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who are the backbone of the nation’s economy.
At the same time, they would also support the SMEs training and reskilling in embracing digitalisation.
“We strongly advocate for targeted initiatives for the hardest-hit industries especially the tourism sector through the setting up of a tourism infrastructure fund and the opening of travel bubbles to revive the local tourism industry,” they said.
INSAP and Bait al-Amanah also supported the strategic reopening of international borders as Malaysia enters the endemic stage of Covid-19.
They believed that Malaysia still remains a popular choice for economic, trade, travel and social convergence.
Both parties also reminded of the importance of advocating for food security and hoped that the upcoming budget would invest more in agricultural technology.
“It is highly important to enhance research and development in agricultural products and the latest technology for smart farming.
“Given the growing scarcity in resources, we recommend the push for the circular economy as a future growth driver of the nation,” they said.
Lastly, INSAP and Bait al-Amanah wanted the government to protect the livelihood of vulnerable groups, especially those who have lost their income during the pandemic.
“Targeted cash assistance such as an assistive basic income should be considered for the marginalised and vulnerable households even in the long term, beyond the pandemic.
“For greater efficiency in disbursement against exclusion and inclusion error, we strongly push for the availability of updated and granular household data,” they added.
Therefore, they believed that there is a need for everyone to work together to overcome the long-term effects of Covid-19 where nobody is left behind.
“In planning for Budget 2022, we need to proactively and diligently commit to reforms by placing people at the centre, in alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal,” they concluded.