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We fact check 4 things Malaysians got wrong about Budget 2019

So the big news over the week is probably the announcement of none other than Budget 2019. It’s a pretty major thing, as it’s the new govt’s first ever budget and many tuned in to see if got anything that would benefit them or cost them more.

It’s also however been widely misconstrued. We doubt most of you actually watched our Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng go on and on talking about the economy, so you probably had gone about reading stuff about it from Facebook and Twitter and getting frantic messages from your second grandaunt on your dad’s side about why it’s time to pay your PTPTN/car/house loan soon. But with so much info going around, some of it is bound to be, uh, a lil different than what was actually said laa.

As such, we’ve collected some of these misconceptions and misunderstandings about the Budget 2019 to make the picture a little clearer (and also cos we need the views #ihatecilisos). Since we’re at it, we might as well start off with the new tax that you’ve probably heard about by now…


1. CLAIM: Guan Eng and co will be taxing Netflix, Spotify and Steam soon.

netflix tax claim

Okay so the news that probably sent shockwaves into avocado-eating millennials throughout the country is that the govt is set to implement a tax on online services such as Netflix, Spotify and Steam, and that news is actually true. In fact, quite literally the moment Lim Guan Eng made the announcement, news of it went viral among interwebz users all over, leading to memes like this:

Image from Lee Hansen

You have displeased Lord Gaben. Image from Lee Hangsen

But actually right, the taxes won’t be coming anytime soon. It’s only set to to arrive in 2020, and on top of that, we don’t even know yet exactly how much the tax is or how it’ll work. Perhaps one could even say it’s a good thing, like for example if you work in an industry affected by the growth of these online services but pay tax cos it’s a traditional medium like Astro. That being said, while many were quick to wonder what’s up with the new govt’s plan to tax your Netflix and chill session, it’s probably important to note that had BN won, you’re probably still going to pay taxes for these services.

See, late last year, the Royal Malaysian Customs Department director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy announced a plan to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on Netflix and other online streaming services. This was among his proposals to the then-govt about possible things to put GST on, which included Grab and AirBnB. However, it never made it to the final Budget 2018, but of course as it turns out we’ll be seeing a tax on these online services anyway, albeit in 2020.

There are only 4 certainties in life: Death, taxes and this writer not understanding math.

There are only 4 certainties in life: Death, taxes and this writer not understanding math.


2. CLAIM: No more PTPTN exemptions even if you get first class degree.

ptptn complain

Now we know earlier we poked a little fun at the young millennials whose first major reaction to Budget 2019 was probably about the Netflix tax. However, many were also keen to point out some of the issues they had with something a little more serious: PTPTN.

As you can see from the above tweets, among the many issues people have with the PTPTN is that those who obtain first class degrees in university will no longer get an exemption from paying back their PTPTN money. But is that actually the case? Well…. not entirely.

During the budget announcement, Lim Guan Eng stated that there would be loan deductions for students from B40 households who get first class results in uni. This means that yes, there still is some financial benefit for PTPTN students who get first class honours… but only if the govt considers you poor enough laa. That has led to some to question that decision, including former PM Najib Razak, who was not impressed by the govt’s failure to care for the middle income group of students.

If you understand this meme you're probably paying for PTPTN or going to. Image from Najib Memes for Barisan Teens

If you understand this meme you’re probably paying for PTPTN or about to. Image from Najib Memes for Barisan Teens

In fact, there were many things about the PTPTN plans announced in Budget 2019 that were pretty divisive. It remains a contentious topic, with people debating over Harapan’s PTPTN manifesto promises that they failed to provide to the oddity of everyone earning over RM1,000 having to begin paying off their PTPTN debt when the minimum wage is set to be slightly higher at RM1,100. Guan Eng tho has responded to his critics, saying that had Jho Low not siphoned off RM50 billion, it could’ve been possible to honour their election manifesto promises.

Should you let the Gomen reduce your EPF contribution to 8%?


3. CLAIM: JAKIM set to be dissolved in the budget

jakim complain

So if you read the above status and thought, “wait what JAKIM’s gone???” you, just like the person who posted that status, thought wrong. In fact, not only was JAKIM not dissolved, its funding in the Budget 2019 has increased! Yep, JAKIM is set to get an extra 100 million next year, bringing their total funding to RM1.2 billion.

“Islam, as the official religion, has a special position in the Federal Constitution. Therefore, the government allocates RM1.2 billion for 2019, compared to RM1.1 billion for the year 2018, to ensure that the development of Islam is not affected, given the challenging economic outlook,” – Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, as quoted by Malay Mail

This is on top of the govt putting in an extra RM150 million to build mosques and suraus across Malaysia in a plan called the ‘Khaira Ummah’ initiative. With all this extra money, you may then begin to wonder how the rumour of JAKIM supposedly being dissolved even started. Well actually it might have something to do with Mahathir previously saying that JAKIM’s role would be reviewed, leading to fears it would be gone. PAS even responded with this frontpage on their newspaper Harakah Daily:

Image from Harakah Daily

Image from Harakah Daily

Of course, as it turned out, not only was JAKIM not dissolved, but it got more funds too. However, it’s not the only thing that people are worried would be gone in the recent Budget announcement…


4. CLAIM: The PH govt is looking to cancel all of the previous govt’s projects.

projek bn complaint

You might have sensed a theme when it was announced that the MRT3, ECRL and HSR projects were cancelled by the govt. Some – like the FB poster above – claim that it’s the govt cancelling all of the previous govt’s projects. But did that happen in the recent Budget?

Well… not exactly. In Guan Eng’s speech, one section titled Strategy 2: Restructuring and Rationalising Government Debt lists down Barisan’s megaprojects that are cancelled – all three of them. Yep, the cancelled projects are the Multi-Product Pipeline, Trans-Sabah Pipeline and the MRT3. However, a number of other projects have been put on hold.

These projects include the ECRL and HSR. In fact, plenty of other BN-era megaprojects are still currently on the way too, such as the LRT3. Meanwhile, as for some projects that were assigned without an open tender, it will be reawarded through open tender, such as the Klang Valley Double Track Project (KVDT).

“The KVDT project which was awarded via direct negotiations… for RM5.2 billion, has been terminated. The project will be retendered via an open tender exercise and is expected to realise a substantial reduction in cost. In addition, various Government agencies are in the process of renegotiating contracts entered into by the previous government amounting to RM19 billion,” – Lim Guan Eng, as quoted by The Star

*Not actual scenes of companies bidding for the KVDT project.

*Not actual scenes of companies bidding for the KVDT project.


The Budget is important, but getting the real facts is probably importanter

From what we can see, it’s kinda clear that misinformation can spread pretty easily, especially when it confirms your bias. Let’s face it, not everyone will be pleased with the new Budget 2019. Heck, even in the Cilisos office, a number of us are split regarding several of the new plans announced by the new govt.

That being said, it’s perhaps never a good thing to spread misinformation just to forward your own agenda. Of course, it could also just be a case of simple misunderstanding and maybe the people above never meant what they posted had they known better. In any case tho, it’s probably a good thing to remember to double check before you share, especially if it sounds way too good to be true.

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