Malaysia PM offers fresh goodies ahead of polls
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian premier Najib Razak provided a fresh round of handouts on Friday as he announced a voter-friendly budget for 2013 aimed at shoring up support ahead of what is predicted to be a tough election.
His Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled Malaysia for 55 years, must face a national ballot by June but is also under pressure to rein in public debt as rating agencies warn of downgrades.
To bolster the country's export-oriented economy and beef up political support, Mr Najib embarked on a spending spree including 3 billion ringgit ($1.2 billion) in direct cash payments, tax cuts and bonuses of 1.5 month's salary for 1.3 million civil servants.
Mr Najib told parliament the government will repeat this year's 500 ringgit given to households earning up to 3,000 ringgit a month and also hand out 250 ringgit to unmarried people aged 21 and above earning 2,000 or less per month.