Promoting Tourism

  • New investments by 4-star and 5-star hotel operators in Sabah and Sarawak be given Pioneer Status with 100% income tax exemption or Investment Tax Allowance of 100% for 5 years.
  • RM50mil for conservation works of heritage sites in Malacca and Penang to support activities undertaken by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private sector.
Penang Tourism Action Council

They welcomed the RM50 million allocation for conservation work at heritage sites in Malacca and Penang.
Its chairman, Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen, said the money would go towards the restoration of about 500 of the 5,000 pre-war houses within the inner-city here.

A portion of the allocation would also be used for heritage educational programmes for the young, and sustaining traditional trade and activities.

"It is important that the allocation be divided equally between the two cities."

She was commenting on the RM50 million allocation to support activities undertaken by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector at heritage sites.

Kee said there were also plans to bring back the trams here and to upgrade the iconic trishaws to provide an environmentally friendly mode of transport within the city.

Penang Heritage Trust president Dr Choong Sim Poey said the allocation should be defined clearly.

This should include identifying who is eligible for funding and how much.

"NGOs used to be given some allocations but it was often difficult to get hold of the money," he said.

Choong also called for incentives to be given to pre-war house owners to restore their premises.

"With the incentives, they will at least restore the buildings instead of neglecting them."


Social Safety Net

  • Eligibility criteria for welfare assistance under the Welfare Department, increased from a monthly household income of RM400 to RM720 for Peninsular Malaysia, RM830 for Sarawak and RM960 for Sabah.
  • Government pensioners who had served at least 25 years upon retirement, will receive a pension of not less than RM720 per month, effective Jan 1 2009. Increased
  • The Government will now also set up a Special fund of RM25mil set up to channel financial assistance to victims of calamities such as floods and fire.

Eradicating Poverty

  • Programmes to enhance income, as well as provide skills and career development training under the Skim Pembangunan Kesejahteraan Rakyat to be continued. In addition, Program Lonjakan Mega Luar Bandar is being implemented in Pulau Banggi, Sabah and Tanjung Gahai, in Kuala Lipis, Pahang.
  • In 2009, RM50mil is allocated to build 1,400 new houses and repair 1,000 houses under the Housing Assistance Programme. Priority will be given to senior citizens, the disabled and single parents with many dependents as well as victims of natural disasters.
  • RM580mil and RM420mil allocated for Sabah and Sarawak respectively to increase income and enhance quality of life of Malaysians there by improving basic amenities, such as electricity, water and rural roads.
  • Households which incur monthly electricity bills of RM20 or less, will not have to pay for electricity, for the period from 1 October 2008 to end of 2009.
  • The current tax rebate of RM350 per person be increased to RM400 for those with taxable income of RM35,000 and below.
  • All interest income from savings for individuals be tax exempt.
  • Reduce import duties on various consumer durables from between 10% and 60% to between 5% and 30%. These include blender, rice cooker, microwave oven and electric kettle.
  • Full import duty exemption on several food items, which currently attract import duties of between 2% and 20%. These include vermicelli, biscuits, fruit juices and canned sweet corn.
  • Reduce the road tax on private passenger vehicles with diesel engines to be the same as those with petrol engines, effective 1 September 2008.

AIM chairman Datuk Amihamzah Ahmad

Low-income earners here, in Penang, Johor Baru, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu have been given a lifeline by Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM).
Under Budget 2009, the urban poor have also been included in AIM's radar. AIM, a microfinance agency, will also be disbursing some RM500 million next year, higher than this year's allocation of RM460 million.

AIM chairman Datuk Amihamzah Ahmad said it was about time that AIM reached out to the urban poor.

"When AIM first started, we gave loans to those earning below RM700 a month. Now those earning RM1,500 can also apply.

"We have already started lending to low-wage earners in Kuala Lumpur, as they have been hard hit by rising prices of goods and services."

Amihamzah said that from experience, borrowers usually were able to get out of poverty five years after getting the loan.

"We start with a RM2,000 loan and depending on the borrower's track record and eligibility, it can go up to RM50,00."

AIM borrowers are mostly those who could not get bank loans.