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Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the Finance Minister, has announced several new initiatives including Aidilfitri assistance, an extension of individual tax relief, and the provision of housing credit through the Syarikat Jaminan Kredit Perumahan (SJKP), during the second reading of the Supply Bill 2023 for the national budget.

Anwar explained that the government decided to provide an additional RM200 in the Special Aidilfitri Assistance to 850,000 rubber smallholders, paddy farmers, and fishermen who were still struggling, especially during Ramadan and Aidilfitri.

This is in addition to the Special Aidilfitri Assistance of RM300 per month for fishermen and RM200 per month for rice farmers announced in Budget 2023, reported Bernama. Anwar emphasized that this increase is the largest aid the government has ever given to fishermen, paddy farmers, and rubber smallholders.

The prime minister also announced an extension of individual income tax relief of up to RM8,000 for net savings in the National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN) until 2024. This was decided after hearing public concerns and complaints made to the government after the announcement made by Deputy Finance Minister Steven Sim.

Anwar acknowledged that this extension would incur losses of RM250 million per year in the government’s revenue, but it will benefit approximately 400,000 taxpayers.

In addition, starting 1 April this year, the SJKP housing credit will be expanded to fixed and irregular income groups to help them have their first home. This initiative is expected to benefit the B40 and M40 groups.

Anwar highlighted that the SJKP housing credit scheme had been improved by increasing the financing guarantee fund from RM3 billion to RM5 billion to help first-time home buyers, especially those with no fixed income.

Lastly, the government will give priority to the filling of public service positions in critical sectors, especially health and education, which will involve an additional expenditure of up to RM800 million this year.

Anwar noted that the additional initiatives announced in Budget 2023 prove the Unity Government’s commitment to bring changes to Malaysia and improve governance to ensure the well-being of the people while urging all quarters to play a role in making it a success.

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