Budget 2020 provides women opportunities to better contribute to the economy: Exco Chong Eng

PRESS STATEMENT BY YB CHONG ENG
STATE EXECUTIVE COUNCILLOR
FOR WOMEN & FAMILY DEVELOPMENT, GENDER INCLUSIVENESS & RELIGIONS OTHER THAN ISLAM

“Women Having A Share of The Prosperity”
11 October 2019 

Budget 2020 which was announced yesterday is most strategic and timely, in providing more opportunities for women to contribute and grow the economy. With the theme “Driving growth and equitable outcomes towards shared prosperity”, Budget 2020 is a strong commitment by the federal government in enabling women in participate in the workforce as well as in entrepreneurship. 

The incentive of RM 500 per month for two years, made available for women between 30 and 50 years old returning to the workforce and RM 300 for employers as well as income tax exemption until year 2023, are great impetus for both returning women and employers. This is crucial in addressing the disparity between female and male labour force participation rates which stand at 54.7% and 80.1% respectively in 2018. This would mean that nearly half of Malaysian women between age of 15 and 64 years old do not have a paid job.  The study by TalentCorp also found that for 93% of women considering re-entering the workforce, 63% of them face difficulties in doing so. Thus, I hope that this incentive would entice both parties and overcome some barriers.

Women entrepreneurs are in for a big windfall as there are more funding available for them to start-up or expand their business. SME Bank will introduce a RM 200 million fund specifically for women entrepreneurs by offering loans of up to RM 1 million per SME, on top of the annual interest rate of 2% by the government to reduce borrowing costs. This initiative is timely as women constitute only 20% of the estimated registered total of more than 650,000 entrepreneurs in Malaysia, according to a report by The Centre for Entrepreneur Development and Research (CEDAR) of SME Bank. Some of the cited reasons are the societal stigma of women’s roles as homemakers and also the lack of equal opportunities made available to women. I am confident that the loan offered will be a boost to create and enable more successful women entrepreneurs in our country.

I would like to congratulate the federal government on their long-sightedness in providing RM 30m to build more TASKA and TADIKA especially in hospitals and schools. Additionally, the tax rebate will be increased from RM 1,000 to RM 2,000 for parents who send their children to registered TASKA or TADIKA. Childcare services remain one if not the main challenge for mothers to stay in the workforce. With this allocation, it will enable more mothers and of course fathers, to have peace of mind and be more productive in their work. I sincerely hope that the private sector will take this call and follow suit. Provide childcare services for your employees. It is a compelling strategy for recruitment and retention.

I also applaud the review of the Employment Act 1955 to increase maternity leave from 60 to 90 days from 2021. This is most needed especially for lactating mothers and for mothers to get acclimatised to motherhood. In addition, I would also call upon the private sector to also consider giving 7 days paternity leave for fathers, as parenthood is a shared responsibility.

Yang Berhormat Puan Chong Eng
State Executive Councillor
For Women & Family Development, Gender Inclusiveness & Religions Other Than Islam
Chairperson Of Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC)