By Muhammad Ammar Shafiq Hamzah
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8-- The government has been urged to offer incentives to companies that take steps to improve employees' health, under the upcoming 2020 Budget.
Medical practitioner and former Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) President Dr Ashok Zachariah Philip said under the incentive, a company should be eligible to claim tax deduction on expenses like providing fitness facilities at the workplace or health screening for workers.
He said the move will promote a culture of health within workplaces and tackle the rising rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.
“A gym can be made available at the office or the company can pay for employee’s gym membership and write the cost off (through tax deduction).
“Similarly, I think companies can give incentives to employees who don’t take sick leave or improve their health through weight loss program, these incentives will be a boost in promoting healthy lifestyle,” he told Bernama.
The 2020 Budget will be tabled in Parliament on Friday.
Dr Ashok said a significant increase of allocation through 2020 Budget is also needed in the health sector, especially in providing more posts for doctors and other medical personnel.
He said more hospitals need to be built to staff these personnel and cater to the increasing number of medical graduates every year.
“Apart from that, more smoking cessation measures are needed, including increased taxation on cigarettes and tobacco. Electronic cigarette must also be taxed,” he added.
Meanwhile, medical practitioner Dr John Chew Chee Ming said NCD is a ticking time bomb for the country as more and more people were diagnosed with the lifestyle-related diseases.
He said focus should be given to continuous preventive and awareness measures to educate the public on staying healthy.
“NCDs like obesity and diabetes is increasing at a worrying trend, the government must support and encourage physical activities at national and community level,” he added.