Based on the findings of our Budget 2022 Online Stakeholders’ Roundtable, Institute for Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (INSAP) and Bait Al-Amanah pledge our full commitment to push for specific initiatives which should be included in Budget 2022. Underlying these initiatives, we strongly believe in the need to work together towards tackling the long term COVID-19 impact, protecting lives and livelihood, reinforcing national resilience, catalysing reforms. and leaving no one behind.
First, we beseech the government to prioritise the development of Sabah and Sarawak in Budget 2022 by providing equitable federal budget allocation to both states. In pursuing balanced growth and inclusiveness, it is imperative to improve basic infrastructure for accessibility, including electricity, internet access, and transportation facilities in rural Sabah and Sarawak. 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.
Second, we advocate for Gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) in ensuring that gender empowerment is taken systematically into account in planning Budget 2022. We call for increases in 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. We need to uphold gender-equitable and disability inclusive digital accessibility in education and employment among others. Additionally, we support an expansion of upskilling, reskilling, and education programmes for women to improve employment opportunities.
Third, we fully advocate for civil service reform against complacency and mediocrity and push ahead towards greater commitment, efficiency, proactiveness, and integrity. Correspondingly, we strongly advocate for an improvement in the public procurement system towards transparency and accountability. We are in dire need of reforms of failed or inefficient GLCs, in order to push for greater meritocracy and boost competitiveness.
Fourth, we call for stronger and more holistic incentives to drive the nation’s economy reopening towards recovery. We urge the government to extend the wage subsidy programme and provide more grants and funding support for SMEs as the backbone of the nation’s economy. In addition, we support long term reskilling training opportunities to helps SMEs in their journey of digital transformation. 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. As we move from the pandemic towards an endemic, we support the call for a strategic reopening of international borders as a strong signal that Malaysia is still a choice destination for economic, trade, travel, and social convergence.
Fifth, we urge the government to reprioritise food security through expanding investment in agricultural technology. It is highly important to enhance research and development in agricultural products as well 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.
Sixth, we implore the government to build a comprehensive, continuous, and responsive social protection system to alleviate the many challenges of vulnerable groups during this crisis, including the M40 families who have lost their sources of income. Targeted cash assistance such as an assistive basic income should be considered for the marginalized 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.
All in all, the pandemic has brought to light the deep-rooted systemic dysfunctions and structural problems that have been present in our nation for decade. In planning for our Budget 2022, we need to proactively and diligently commit to reforms by placing people at the centre, in alignment with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 17 of partnership for the goals. With a strong desire to create the right economic environment for Malaysia to recover and prosper, we hope that the proposals put forth here will be taken into consideration for a more holistic and innovative Budget 2022.
* Budget 2022 Online Stakeholders’ Roundtable jointly organized by Institute for Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (INSAP) and Bait Al-Amanah was successfully held on the 20th of September 2021. With the theme “Build Back Malaysia Stronger”, this online event highlighted proposals from key stakeholders comprising chambers of commerce and industry, think tanks, NGOs, academia, civil society and political parties.
*To download a copy of the joint declaration, please refer to the attachment below: