So Najib delivered his first budget today, dropping the term “1Malaysia” here, there and everywhere.
This blog post is not designed to heap praise on him. BN has full time and well paid (by whom?) politicians and journalists doing that. I am viewing his maiden performance as a tax payer who foots part of his salary and benefits.
We do have the annual incremental goodies – increase of personal relief and insurance premium relief by RM1,000, offset by re-introduction of real property gain tax at 5%.
The funny thing is Najib spoke about the concern about credit card debts and the solution is imposing RM50 and RM25 respectively on principal and supplementary cards.
The sums look innocent enough until I saw this . As at August 2007, the total number of principal and supplementary cards in Malaysia was 8.22 million and 1.15 million respectively. Apply the 2 tax and the total additional collection is a whopping RM440 million!
If you want to control credit card debts, more effective measures would be to impose stricter guidelines on qualification, credit limits of cardholders and limit the number of cards held. Not by increasing the financial burden of all cardholders, whether they are having a debt problem or not.
Najib spoke of towards high income society. (I wonder what inspired him, probably he read it here). He mentioned a specific target of 2.5% income growth for the next 10 years. Without specifically mentioning how this is going to be achieved, it is merely sloganeering again.
He did not speak of how he intended to create an environment whereby high value jobs can be created or a visible plan to create a competitive and capable work force here. He did not even address one of the main cause of artificially low wages here – the high percentage of foreign labours and the plea for minimum wage level to be set.
I rather have a revision of the 1971 Universities and University Colleges Act to grant undergraduates more freedom to pursue intellectual growth rather than having a gimmick of RM50 discount for train rides and internet charge.
These 2 measures are derisive when considered against the weight of the act on the shoulders and mindset of the undergraduates. Free them the restriction on mind and body and we have a better chance to create innovative and creative graduates to improve our human capital.
Najib spoke of 1Malaysia and in his UMNO AGM he brought the message that no one should be marginalized in his 1Malaysia and yet when he spoke of his allocation for agriculture sector and specifically a RM58 million allocation for livestock farming, he mentioned only lembu and kambing. Pig farmers, who have been paying taxes all along and suffering numerous harassment, are still a political hot potato?
This is what I feel been omitted from Najib’s budget
No mentioning of Petronas. The huge pot of money there still remains out of the common rakyat’s view and we are not entitled to get relief from the most significant natural resource of our country.
That is why I like DAP’s alternative budget where Petronas profits are given directly to Malaysians and the multiplier effect from 27 million spending Malaysians are more immediate and effective than what has been BN’s modus operandi even until this budget – huge allocation to selected parties and the trickle effect can’t be felt by the common man in the street.
The key question for me is, as billions been spent in annual budgets, do we feel money coming into our pockets? I like the Singapore annual dividend scheme where their citizens actually get paid. My personal preference are discretionary payout by government from Petronas profits by way of higher Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat monthly aid, topping up our EPF accounts or using the profits to subsidize healthcare and education hence lowering the charges citizens have to pay upfront.
No mention of cost controls. Najib mentioned about expenditure would be decreased by 11.2%but base on Jabatan Audit Negara’s report, most agencies have developed a culture to see who can overspend more, budget or no budget. A more effective way is to rigorously impose cost control, opening up government tenders, punishing errant officers reported in the JAN reports. That itself can generate savings.
Just ask how Lim Guan Eng did it. Last I heard, he saved RM36 million. By the way, how much we paid the consultants to have the slogan “1Malaysia”? Tan Seri Khalid Ibrahim is also another good reference source. Rather than imposing restriction on funding to Penang and Selangor, in the spirit of 1Malaysia, I hope the politicians can disregard political divide in caring out their duties as administrators of the country's well being.
Najib did not mention a key word very much did he? Inflation. In order to aid the rakyat, controlling cost of living, even finding ways of reducing it, would be helpful. Najib failed to mention about this and he also ignored talking about the strength of the ringgit and by extension imported inflation. In order not to appear being a critic without offering solutions, I wish to highlight that I have written a piece on this matter before here.
Najib mentioned about “improving the image of MACC”. I rather have tangible and actual reform in terms of weeding out unsuitable and unqualified personnel, strict quality control over personnel and procedures rather than having more public relation conferences as Najib mentioned. In light of Teoh Beng Hock’s Inquest revelation and embarrassing evasion by those responsible, it is definitely more of an image problem. Unless in order to be consistent with sloganeering, image is just about everything. I am paying for actual delivery, and not a bleedin' image!
Najib left a big suspense for us. He mentioned that there would be a new fuel subsidy next year and GST study is in its final stage so we better brace ourselves.