Budget an eyewash, no help to workers, says trade union group
Expressing disappointment with the budget proposals tabled by the prime minister yesterday, its secretary-general N.Gopal Kishnam said the umbrella body for trade unions had expected Datuk Seri Najib Razak to advise private sector employers to pay monthly cost of living allowance to workers.
"It was done in the 1970s when Najib's father Tun Abdul Razak was the prime minister and later, employers absorbed the allowance as part of the salary package," he told The Malaysian Insider.
Gopal said public sector workers were paid such an allowance ranging between RM200 and RM300 per month, depending on the locality they worked. He said Najib also did not touch on the minimum wage to workers which should be revised from January next year.
Currently the minimum basic salary for employees in the peninsula is RM900 per month and RM800 for those in Sabah and Sarawak.
MTUC is proposing a figure of RM1,200 to the National Wage Council.
Gopal further said BR1M was not a solution to ease the financial burden of the low income group as traders would take the opportunity to raise prices.
"Prices of goods and services will be higher when the Goods and Service Tax is introduced in April next year," he said.
Najib said those earning RM3,000 and below will be given RM950 instead of the current RM650 but in three instalments.
For those earning RM3,000 to RM4,000, BR1M will be increased to RM750 (from RM450).
"To me, BR1M is like giving fish to the poor. The government needs to create an economic environment for the people to earn a higher income," said Gopal.
He also said the reduction in income tax by one to three percentage points was negligible.
"Whatever little savings will go into paying for the potential hike in goods and services next year," he added.
He said Najib's proposal that families with monthly income of less than RM4,000 would not have to pay tax was at best hollow as this group did not contribute to the government’s coffers after taking into account tax reliefs provided to them.
Gopal said the RM200 monthly financial aid for borrowers in the first two years to reduce their burden of monthly instalments under the Youth Housing Scheme was intended to help developers sell their properties.
"There is no will by the government to check the price of houses in rural and urban areas," he said.
On Najib’s announcement that the Employment Act and related labour laws would be amended to suit the changing times, Gopal said: "MTUC hopes any changes are not biased towards employers and make it easy for them to hire and fire workers.”
He hoped MPs from both sides of the political divide would scrutinise the budget proposals and provide valuable input to the government. – October 11, 2014., Malaysian Insider