* No I don't have the patience to comment on the whole Budget, unfortunately...
I did a very **grown up thing last Friday by attempting to listen to the tabling of the Budget 2011 on a placidly warm afternoon since I had actually taken the afternoon off from work - not for listening to the budget, though. Well, that is if you exclude the fact that I actually slept off on the floor half way through. I wasn't alone, though. While the PM was tabling the budget the camera zoomed across the room, showing certain people in many different states of sleep or attempted sleep.
But I digress.
The Tourist Friendly Budget
The radio station I listen to on the way to work had previously mentioned the country's concern over tourists not shopping enough here, preferring countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong for such activities. It is perhaps for that very reason bags, perfume and (ahem) imported underwear will be tax free? Oh yes, and there was a pause for applause after the meaningful mention of underwear. Perhaps the spanking new 100-storey tower will pour salt over Petronas Twin Towers' wounds by luring outlets selling these items by the dozen. Good luck to KL folk in handling the traffic jam while the construction is going on.
Of hybrids and mobile phones
An interesting item tabled is the exemption of import and excise duty for hybrid cars. I found that particularly interesting as I had heard somewhere (source: from the back of my mind) that we needed to sustain our petroleum industry and alternative power sources were discouraged - explains the non-existence of solar powered cars for a country that receives 11 to 12 hours of sunshine every single day. Mobile phones too will be exempted from sales tax after this - iPhone, anyone?
So, government babies are more important than private sector babies?
In the past, everyone recommended working in the private sector for various reasons. The government job was more like a last resort or a temporary stepping stone whilst waiting for something better. And then something happened. Anyway, this year's budget tabled an increase in maternity leave for government servants. Nothing against prolonged maternity leave per se, but extending it just for a certain group of people? Screams unfair, eh? (This sadly reminds me of the time I was 14. We didn't have a maths teacher and a geography teacher for two months because they all went to give birth!)
Restaurants charge 5% for government tax, and an extra 10% for service charge (if they serve you which is not always the case - it's good that you don't have to give a tip, or worry that you're not tipping enough or tipping too much, but on the other hand, no matter how lousy the service is, including having the waiter ignore your request for a glass of water after a good helping of tom yam you still have to fork out that 10%) And then earlier there was a proposal to introduce Government Service Tax (GST) which was objected, argued about and finally postponed. I suppose the service tax mentioned here refers to what the receipts label as Government tax - which will be increased to 6% based on this budget.
**mentally grown up, that is. If I grow physically any more, I'm in trouble!