Skip to main content

Budget 2016 : ‘A Celebration Of Failures’

INTRODUCTION

I did not get to speak on the budget in Parliament this time around. At least not during the policy stage. Anyway, much of what was needed to be said was said. However there are a few issues which I may have put differently and as we take a break from Parliament during this festive week, I take the opportunity to pen down what I had intended to say.

I am doing it in English as it’s been quite some time since I wrote in English. And although that has its advantages, that being improving my written BM, the ability to write in English obviously has its value. So, in order to keep the English flowing, I need my practice sessions. This article being one of them!

THE BUDGET SPEECH

We sat for two whole hours listening to the Budget speech. When it ended and as the PM was about to sit down, suddenly almost all the opposition MPs stood up holding placards on which was written, “Where is the RM 2.6 Billion?”. The PM was noticeably rattled having been caught unprepared for such an action by the opposition. He had probably braced himself for the opposition holding up the Pakatan alternative budget, as we had done previously, but the placards were something else.

Actually, to be frank, it surprised me that he was so surprised. This is THE ISSUE that has been on the rakyat’s mind all this time and it was THE QUESTION which needed answering. He should have expected it. Then again, being in his ivory tower, probably surrounded by no one but boot-lickers, he was completely unaware of the public’s exasperation over this issue.

Listening to the speech I could only conclude that the BN Government has no idea as to what good governance is and what makes a successful administration, specifically from the economic point of view. Failures are celebrated as successes and I am beginning to doubt if they know what ‘successful government’ is all about.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I have decided to name the 2016 Budget as a budget of “Celebrating failures”. I will explain the reason for this by three very pertinent examples as per below.

CELEBRATING FAILURE 1: GST

As I was listening to the PM delivering his budget speech, I was shocked by his admission that had it not been for the collection of GST, the Government would not have enough money to pay the civil servants! Straight away I thought to myself, does he know what he is saying?

Surely that was an admission of failure on his part? A failure to implement policies which would lead to the generation of income from sources other than the rakyat’s pocket. To my surprise, it was NOT acknowledged as a failure but instead celebrated as a ‘success’ on the part of the government! According to their somewhat distorted logic, it proved the government right about the need to implement the GST although it was opposed by the opposition.

It was stressed how the GST had brought in RM 21 Billion in additional revenue to the government and how it therefore managed to overcome the shortfall from oil and gas revenues. The fact that it was revenue taken from the rakyat and not as a result of increased productivity or profits was completely irrelevant to them! Any fool can increase taxes and thereby achieve greater returns for the government! So what is there to be proud of?

When it was highlighted that the GST caused inflation and an increase in the cost of living for the ordinary man, the reply came that 160 countries implement the GST! Does that answer the issue of inflation caused? The question was about how GST contributed to inflation, NOT how many countries collect GST! How do you reason with people like these I wondered.

When it was mentioned that it was unfair to tax people who barely have enough to make ends meet, again the 160 countries was mentioned. Does that mean that it is therefore fair? Again the issue raised was not addressed. The issue was on justice and how GST, being a regressive tax, taxes even the poor, NOT how many countries implement GST!

One can only assume the simple logic is we need something to scream and celebrate about, so why not the GST!

CELEBRATING FAILURE 2: PAYMENT OF BR1M

Another issue with which the BN Government is seemingly proud of is the payment of BR1M. Pride over this program is so obvious such that when the toll rates were raised, the PM proudly announced that if toll rates are not increased, BR1M could not be paid! In the name of BR1M, unjustified increases in toll rates are thus defended. While the concessionnaires get to keep their targeted profits of hundreds of millions, the common people get an increase of RM 50 per year.

The amount allocated for BR1M was also announced as being higher than that of previous years and this brought applause from some BN MPs. It was then stated that more people are being identified and classified as being eligible for BR1M and even this brought applause!

BR1M to me is an unabashed admission of the failure of the government to solve the problems of poverty, the poor and under privileged, job creation and the assuring of reasonable salaries! Yet this is again some how seen as proof of success! In most developing and developed countries, this would surely be seen as an admission of failure on the part of the government but under the BN, again, failure is seen as a success.

CELEBRATING FAILURE 3: THE REDUCING VALUE OF THE RINGGIT

Much to my surprise even the falling ringgit was rejected as a sign of failure by some of the BN MPs. It was argued that the dropping value of the Ringgit was merely a consequence of the American Hegemony over the world’s economy, NOT due to mismanagement by the Malaysian government. A hegemony enforced through the military power of the US which, it was claimed, led to a false economic and therefore monetary situation.

The planned devaluation of the Singapore Dollar and the Chinese Yuan was for some reason presented as proof of correctness of their argument. These currencies became “too strong for their own good” and therefore had to be devalued. So there was nothing strange for the ringgit to be dropping as that was the same as doing a devaluation! That argument left my head spinning for the third time that day.

Worse it was even argued that the falling value of the ringgit was advantageous to Malaysia, in particular Johor. This was because the Singaporeans would then come by their thousands buying up everything! As such even the falling value of the ringgit was being celebrated all be it by some!

How, again I asked myself, do you argue against this kind of logic? Was the Government so desperate for credits that even obvious demerits were being presented as proof of success?

CELEBRATION OF FAILURE 4 : NO NEW SOURCE OF REVENUE IDENTIFIED

Having patted themselves on the back for the GST, BR1M and the falling ringgit, all being seen as successes, they forgot to explain not only the 1MDB and the RM 2.6 Billion, but even what was to be our new source of revenue for the future. Were we going to go to heavy industry, ICT through ‘multi-media super corridors’, service industries or back to agriculture and fisheries? What would be our area of concentration in driving the economic growth of the nation after the drop in Oil and Gas revenues? Surely it cannot be GST with increasing rates every other year? Or could it?

In short there is no clear direction and when there is no clear direction, we can only anticipate failure.

CONCLUSION

The budget as presented failed to address the real problems of the economy, the loss in investor confidence, the scandals and corruption and the lack of a clear direction. It is seemingly a ‘more of the same’ budget but even worse as it lacked any sense of urgency. Whereas we are in a state of crisis.

I am no economist and I will not try to pretend to be one. Nonetheless I know failure when I see it, and I believe this view is shared by many! And this budget not only celebrates failure but also promises even more failures for the future.

WaLlahu 'Alam
KHALID SAMAD

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kenyataan Media Amanah Mengenai RUU 355

Muqaddimah

Amanah menganggap mahkamah syariah sebagai institusi penting dalam usaha menzahirkan kebenaran dan keadilan Islam. Oleh itu imejnya sebagai institusi yang cekap dan berwibawa perlu sentiasa dijaga. Amanah bersetuju bahawa segala usaha ke arah memperkasakan mahkamah syariah, dari segi kecekapan perlaksanaan undang-undang Islam, perlu disokong dan dibantu.

Dua Keajaiban

Saya telah melihat dua keajaiban semasa menghadiri sidang Parlimen pada hari Khamis 26 Mei 2016 yang lalu. Besar kemungkinan dua keajaiban ini mempunyai hubungan rapat antara satu sama lain. Samada wujudnya hubungan rapat di antara dua keajaiban ini, atau sebaliknya, saya serahkan kepada semua untuk menilai sendiri.

‘Perbalahan’ YB Saari dan YAB Azmin

Ada yang bertanya kepada saya berhubung tweet YAB Azmin Ali yang menempelak YB Saari Sungib tempoh hari. Saya terkejut dengan apa yang terkandung dalam tweet tersebut. Saya terus membaca apa yang dikatakan YB Saari sepertimana yang dilaporkan oleh Malaysiakini. Apabila saya membacanya, saya dapati tiada apa-apa pula yang disebut berhubung keinginan menjadi Exco. Maka apa sebab dituduh ‘nak jadi pengemis untuk jawatan Exco ke?”

Untuk memudahkan semua memahami isu yang telah dibangkitkan oleh YB Saari, saya senaraikan secara satu per satu supaya mudah difahami.