Santiago: Budget should have boosted green jobs

santiago--bajet-2017PETALING JAYA: Klang MP Charles Santiago believes that the 2017 Budget is “directionless” and the government had missed the opportunity to create new jobs through green energy.

Santiago said the budget showed that the government was still keeping to the 1980s strategy of borrowing funds to build infrastructure projects such as the High Speed Railway project to boost the economy and create jobs.

He said the government should have created new economic paths in renewal bio- solar and wind energy. “It would have caught momentum as Malaysia could have been the leader in Asean countries,” he said. “Living in a better environment is the future. But the budget seemed to have missed that opportunity.”

He told FMT that Putrajaya needs to move away from the traditional methods of creating jobs or to stimulate the economy. “We should not depend on the same strategy of borrowing to build.”

In the 1980s, then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed invested a lot of money into expensive infrastructure projects to move away from an agricultural-based economy to an industrialised nation.

Santiago said the increase in 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) payment was another sign of the government’s lack of direction.

He said the cost of living had gone up while salaries had remained stagnant; the government should have looked at ways to increase the monthly salaries of poor and middle class Malaysians.

“People including the middle class are fuming because they cannot afford to buy basic necessities to feed their families. There is real anger on the ground. It is becoming too expensive for them,” he said.

He said the government could have supported local companies by introducing a support fund of US$1.5 billion, as done by the South Korean government when it introduced minimum wages. “The support was given for a period of 3 years. And those who fail were not business savvy,” he explained.

He said many companies had reported lower profits because of a slower global economy. The next few years would be difficult ones for Malaysia.

The government should have done more to help local companies, he said. The budget had also ignored the plight of taxi drivers. “With Uber (ride sharing services) coming into the picture it will wipe out the taxi industry,” he said.

Taxi drivers are to receive individual taxi permits once they end their leasing contracts with taxi companies and will be given a RM5,000 grant to buy new vehicles.

Santiago said the government should have issued individual permits to taxi drivers long ago. “Now the permits are offered to them when they are barely able to survive,” he said.

He said the proposal of a RM4,000 rebate for the purchase of a Proton Iriz car was “a half-baked idea”.