Thursday, December 31, 2015

Government won't take easy way out to solve national challenges

The Government will not hesitate to make tough and unpopular decisions to ensure that the country's security, unity, and bright future remains protected, says Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

In his new year's message to Malaysians, the Prime Minister said the country's goal for 2016 was to be a safer, more prosperous, and more equal society.

"In pursuit of that, the Government will not hesitate to take the tough, necessary and right decisions – even if they are not popular – in order to protect the people from the scourges of terrorism; to protect our precious unity that safeguards our unique diversity; and to protect that bright future that is the birthright of every Malaysian, and for which I can assure you the government will always strive with every sinew," he said in a blog posting.

Najib said 2015 had been a year of "unprecedented challenges" for Malaysia, noting the impact of dropping oil prices on the country's economy, natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, and the threat of the Islamic State.

In the face of these challenges, he said, the government had not looked for the easy and popular route, but instead chose to take a position of leadership.

The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was one example of doing what was truly right for the people, the Prime Minister pointed out.

"A new tax is rarely welcomed. But amidst falling oil prices, if we had not had the revenue from GST, our fiscal deficit would rise from 3.1% to 4.8% for 2016.

"This would cause the credit rating agencies to downgrade Malaysia, which would result in higher interest rates, investment – including from overseas – to go down, and a serious reduction in employment opportunities along with other hardships for the people," he said.

Najib said the well-being and advancement of the people was the cornerstone of every Government policy, adding that he was fully aware that many Malaysians were hit hard by rising prices and worried about good jobs for themselves and their children.

He said this was why he announced measures in Budget 2016 to bring down taxes for middle-income families, raise the minimum wage, and increase allocation for the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) cash handouts.

Other measures included building 175,000 new affordable housing units, strengthening the quality of education and enhancing infrastructure projects to improve connectivity and offer fresh employment opportunities.

The Prime Minister said that the Government's priorities for 2016 were to strengthen the resilience of the economy, manage the impact of external vulnerabilities and safeguard the interests of the people.

He reiterated that no Malaysian would be left behind in the country's progress, and urged all Malaysians regardless of their political affiliations to support the Government's reforms.

"If we can put past divisions behind us, and embrace anew what joins us together as citizens of the country we are so proud of, I am sure that 2016 can be a year in which we move confidently together, as one, towards that future.

"I would like to wish all Malaysians a happy, prosperous and safe New Year," Najib wrote.

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