Budget 2015 Fails To Address Billion-Ringgit Leakages Says Anwar

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10 – Budget 2015 failed to address the billions of ringgit in leakages by the government, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said, adding that this would have a dangerous effect on the economy as the public grappled with rising living costs.  Instead, Budget 2015 was peppered with the same announcements that had been repeated for the past six to seven years, said the de facto PKR chief. “As usual, this budget repeated several earlier announcements. Like the pan-Borneo highway, that (has been repeated) for six or seven years,” said Anwar when met at the Parliament lobby today.

“But the issue of rising costs that cannot be managed, the issue of rising fuel prices which I think is unreasonable given that global fuel prices are down, the issue of leakage, wastage, no tenders in several big contracts, (all the factors) which cause prices to rise, were not touched. “And I believe this will have a dangerous effect considering the tens of billions of ringgit in leakages that are not managed, coupled with the rise in prices (of goods) including petrol.” Earlier today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tabled the Budget 2015, which he said would strike a balance between managing the “capital economy” and the “people’s economy”. The budget allocated a total of RM273.9 billion, an increase of RM9.8 billion compared with the 2014 initial allocation.

Najib, who is also the finance minister, said the government was committed to lowering the deficit to 3% of gross domestic product in 2015 from 3.5% this year. In a bid to offset rising living costs, including the recent subsidy slashes for the RON95 petrol and diesel, Najib said that cash handouts under the 1Malaysia’s People’s Aid programme (BR1M) would be raised by RM300 next year. Najib said individual income taxes would also be cut by between 1 and 3 percentage points, while the goods and services tax (GST) that comes into effect in April was diluted. RON95 petrol, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), as well as basic food items, such as bread, noodles, coffee and important medicine were exempted from GST.

But Anwar said that there were more issues regarding the GST that must be addressed, besides the exemption of certain goods. “GST is not just a matter of exemption (of goods) but also a matter of approach that would surely raise the prices of goods,” said Anwar. He was also sceptical of Najib’s announcement that the government wished to reach a deficit of 3%. “They have hardly reached the target projection all these years.” Anwar said he would study the Budget over the weekend, and discuss it in detail on Monday. Likewise, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the budget could not be considered people-centric as it had not addressed concerns over cronyism and corruption.

“What we are disappointed about is that there are no measures (to tackle) leakages, corruption and even in terms of fighting crime,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today. “There is still no effort to make it a people-centric budget. How do you ensure the people’s economy if you do not deal with the problems of cronyism and corruption?” Lim, who is also Penang chief minister, said that it was not only Pakatan Rakyat leaders who were concerned about graft and abuse of funds, but also former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has been vocal about the massive debts and shadowy dealings of sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

 

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