KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's top banks lauded the 2014 Budget for being bold enough to announce several unpopular measures.
Government investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd, meanwhile, said the budget states clearly that Malaysia's future growth should not be driven by the expansion of debt, but rather by moving up the global value chain in a manner that leaves no citizen behind.
"Key to this is reducing the level of fiscal deficit, via a measured introduction of the goods and services tax (GST)," said Khazanah managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar.
Malayan Banking Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Farid Alias said the budget may not have been for all Malaysians, but it has addressed Malaysia's key concerns, aligning them to the policy to achieve a high-income nation status.
"We believe that the budget is primarily about sovereign governance to strengthen economic fundamentals, safeguard fiscal sustainability and financial stability, as well as to maintain our high investment grade credit rating."
Farid said the bank welcomed the GST timing, which will give consumers and business time to prepare for it.
CIMB Group chief executive Datuk Seri Nazir Razak described the 2014 Budget as courageous and responsible, saying the government has correctly prioritised fiscal consolidation and restraining expenditure while being prudent with income expectations for next year.
Public Bank Bhd chairman Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow said the bold measures announced will consolidate the country's fiscal soundness while ensuring that the rakyat's welfare is not compromised.
He said the GST will broaden the revenue base of the government.
Standard Chartered head of research for Southeast Asia Edward Lee praised the government for its stance to consolidate its fiscal situation.
He, however, said stronger commitments to subsidy rationalisation could have been made.