The Budget 2013 offers “small doses” of election goodies and fails to address basic structural problems such as cronyism and monopolies, said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.In an immediate reaction to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s budget speech this evening, Anwar said the budget contained elements of gimmick that was “over the top”.
However, said the Permatang Pauh MP, it is a budget that is not based on domestic capabilities and international scenarios, joining the chorus of doubt on the freshly-unveiled budget’s ability to tackle the country’s economic situation.
Here is what Anwar and other MPs have to say about today’s revelations:
Anwar Ibrahim, Opposition Leader
It fails to address the international economic scenario, which is traditionally addressed in the national budget. Secondly, there is the unrealistic position in reference to the domestic capacity as alluded by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (in his comments, see below).
Both of these elements are not touched upon but instead we have a few political gimmicks that are over the top.
The announcement for the public in general seems attractive, with small doses for the elections.
But basic structural problems in this country where the rich cronies and their family members amass billions of ringgit of profit through improper means and fraudulent process is kept unchecked. That includes the monopolies, the independent power producers (IPP) and also the other related agencies.
We have seen massive announcements … but (Najib) has failed – he has no courage to address the issues …
Najib’s reference to Pakatan Rakyat’s stand on) PTPTN is an irresponsible statement… we defend our stand on this and on several others – Najib did not take into consideration the economic situation and the ballooning budget deficit (that Pakatan aims to tackle to afford its promises).
There are conflicting figures that we will review tonight (at the Pakatan dinner) and at the event on Monday.
Najib dares to attack the opposition but does not dare to debate. I was prepared to sit down and listen to his criticisms, but I want him to attend my speech on Monday 11.30am. He calls himself a democrat, so let’s see.
Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, Bandar Tun Razak MP
BN’s budget is very Putrajaya-centric, where the bulk of the allocation is spent to maintain ongoing government activities, programmes and policies. Consequently, only a small portion trickles down to benefit the rakyat.
Pakatan’s budget prioritises the rakyat. We want to unwind the very activities that BN is maintaining.
We are talking about unwinding the approved permits (AP) policy, unwinding the privatisation of government-linked companies (GLCs) and unwinding 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The federal government is responsible to ensure that the rentier class does not bleed the resources of the people.
They must stop giving such a high profit margin to contractors as this will only encourage them to lobby for a business contract at a high cost.
Abdul Hadi Awang, Marang MP
The budget appears to be just numbers and billions of ringgit for projects, and not about fixing fundamentals and its implementations to benefit the masses.
The large-scale projects, meanwhile, are used to siphon profits for the Umnoputeras. After decades of this sort of budget, the rakyat needs to understand that it is about billions of the nation’s wealth down the drain.
Lim Guan Eng, Bagan MP
This is clearly an election budget that does not take into account the fiscal and financial position of the country.
Last year the government overspent by RM20 billion.
The budget will also benefit cronies through projects, so this will be problematic if Pakatan takes over next year.
But I am certain Pakatan, under Anwar’s leadership, will be able to fulfill the Buku Jingga promises without pawning things out to cronies.
Noh Omar, Agriculture Minister
It is a good budget. This is the first time the government has introduced insurance for padi farming. If the farmers’ crops are ruined by floods or disease, they will have insurance.
Liew Chin Tong, Bukit Bendera MP
There are no new policy ideas in this budget. It repeats existing policies and gives money here and there to buy votes.
I hope Malaysians know this is their own money. It may help Najib’s personal popularity (especially) among the poorer households, but people have been talking about it for a whole year already.
We are proposing fundamental re-thinking of (tackling) monopoly as a way to improve income, so we can give more cash to the hands of ordinary Malaysians.
Giving money to Rela and residents’ associations for crime prevention is like giving money to students for private tuition instead of improving education quality.
It is the same in the police budget, which allocates RM1.7 billion for internal security but RM530 million for the Criminal Investigation Department.
Nasharuddin Mat Isa, Bachok MP
Looking at the incentives offered, it is quite impressive but I question… whether it can be implemented or not, because we are almost reaching the maximum (term) of our session.
There are a few incentives that benefit the people, like the RM250 book vouchers for university students, whom we know really need assistance.
Both Pakatan and the government have offered quite impressive budgets for the rakyat so it is up to the rakyat to decide.
(The speech attacking the opposition) is something we have never seen in a budget presentation, but we understand that the election is close, so each side will use every opportunity to showcase their agenda, and the PM will have an advantage in this front.
Anthony Loke, Rasah MP
(The budget) is to buy off many sectors of voters.
One very clear goodie to first-time voters is the RM200 to buy smartphones – it is a very clear target at first-time voters, and the book vouchers and so on.
And also (to woo) civil servants with the one and a half month bonus. This is the first time ever the bonus for civil servants has increased to one and a half months. The timing is to win their support in the election.
In the budget, there are not much changes to the direction of the economy.
Salahuddin Ayub, Kubang Kerian MP
Pakatan’s commitments are more fundamental, for example free education, and the abolition of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) through a staggered plan over the next 15 years.
This, and the move to improve the incomes of various states through oil royalty payments is more important. This area was touched on too lightly by the Budget 2013, through the reduction in liquefied natural gas prices.
That is not a holistic approach, when our objective is to solve the problems faced by the people and this requires true commitment.