KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional leaders are full of contempt for the alternative budget announced by Pakatan Harapan today.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan said PH’s alternative budget could be summed up in three words – irresponsible, unrealistic and unsustainable.
In reference to the alternative budget’s theme of “Spend Wisely, Cut Taxes, Choose Hope”, Rahman said PH would never tell Malaysians that the operating expenditure (OPEX) in Penang and Selangor had increased manifold since they took over the state in 2008.
Rahman said Penang’s OPEX had increased from RM252.3 million in 2007, to RM825.9 million in 2015. Selangor’s OPEX, had increased from RM1.15 billion to RM2.34 billion within the same period.
“In fact, if they had spent wisely in their respective states, their operating expenditures would have decreased instead of the opposite,” he said in a statement today.
Rahman also touched on PH’s promise to cut taxes, including eliminate the goods and services tax (GST), reduce the excise duty for vehicles, as well as abolish highway toll, provide free education and save RM20 billion from fighting corruption.
“Of course there is no plan on how they would finance the cost to buy back all toll concessionaires in Malaysia, no concrete plans on how they would repay RM40 billion in PTPTN loans (higher education loans) that are owed to financial institutions or how they would even manage to save RM20 billion every year from fighting corruption.
“Notwithstanding the fact that abolishing tolls, providing free education and increasing the minimum wage will cost hundreds of billions of ringgit over the long term,” he said.
PH’s alternative budget will have catastrophic effects
Rahman cautioned that such promises would not create jobs, boost one’s income or reduce the cost of living, but would instead cause businesses to stop hiring while existing workers would lose their jobs, and credit rating agencies would downgrade government bond ratings.
He said this would then lead to higher borrowing costs for the government and “many other catastrophic effects not only to the government but also directly to the people”.
He said the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and credit rating agencies had commended the current government for adopting the right approach towards a sustainable fiscal policy by implementing the GST and rationalising subsidies. However, the opposition was promising to implement the exact opposite of those policies, he said.
“Malaysians should realise that the only budget that matters and will impact them positively is the budget that will be unveiled in Parliament by Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday.
“We should never jeopardise our future by counting on the false promises of the opposition. This is a responsible government that does not just think about the present, but also the future, of this country.
“One thing that we are sure we can count on the opposition doing, is most definitely stage a walkout just like they did during the tabling of the 2017 budget,” he said.
PH’s alternative budget seeks to undo what BN government did
In its alternative budget, PH promised to reinstate the fuel subsidy that was removed three years ago and abolish all highway tolls.
“PH believes that in principle, the government must provide some fuel subsidies since Malaysia is an oil-producing nation. To that end, we propose a fuel subsidy of around RM1 billion for 2018.
“This will effectively mean a RM0.20 reduction in price per litre, for a total of 5.4 billion litres of subsidised petrol,” PH had said.
However, the opposition said it would implement a system in which the fuel subsidy would only be enjoyed by Malaysians.
As for the abolishing of tolls, PH said instead of paying compensation to concessionaires for not increasing toll rates, it would be better for the government to buy out all concessionaires in the long term to ensure the people benefited directly.
Meanwhile, MCA deputy president Wee Ka Siong said PH’s alternative budget was the laughing stock of the nation.
PH’s alternative budget based on wrong facts
Wee also poured scorn on PH’s baseline data on Chinese new villages and fishing villages, which are part of Wee’s portfolio as minister in the prime minister’s department.
PH, in its alternative budget, pledged to set aside RM60 million a year for the next five years to improve the villages, as compared to the allocation given by the federal government of RM20 million a year.
“They said they wanted to offer better allocations for new village development, but they had the wrong facts.
“They said the BN government had given RM20 million a year. Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, it was already mentioned that RM300 million had been allocated for infrastructure upgrading. Divided by five years, the amount is RM60 million a year.
“They used the wrong baseline data. They have gotten their calculations wrong,” he told FMT when contacted.
Wee also scoffed at PH’s pledge to provide special low-interest loans for small businesses, saying that BN had done this before.
“Under their micro-credit scheme, PH had said they would give loans to pay for land premiums, to do business and finally, for house renovations.
“What they do not know is that this was introduced by BN seven years ago.
“They are not paying attention. They did not check their facts. Innovative solutions? We have done this before,” he said, adding that PH was trying to give the impression that the government had failed to implement all these.
Wee also said that between 2016 and 2017, RM120 million had been disbursed for the upgrading of new villages, including repairs of old houses.