PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional’s Eric See-To said the coalition’s pledge to increase payments for the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) programme was justified as the government has adequate reserves.
He said unexpectedly higher crude oil prices compared to what was budgeted by Putrajaya had given the government a surprise revenue windfall.
“What is wrong in the government sharing its stronger than expected revenue with the people via bigger BR1M payments to help increase the bottom 40% households’ income, help ease their burden, while further reducing the income gap to improve our country’s income equality?” he said.
“In fact, the government had given notice of this possibility many months ago in November 2017,” the BN strategic communications deputy director added.
He was commenting on BN chairman Najib Razak’s announcement at the launch of the coalition’s manifesto, that BR1M payments would be increased from RM1,200 to RM2,000 for this year.
See-To said the financial projections in Budget 2018, which featured a RM280 billion spending plan approved by Parliament in November last year, were based on an assumption that crude oil prices were at US$52 per barrel.
“This assumption made last year was too conservative as Brent crude oil prices have been in the high US$60s range throughout this year,” he said.
“After having consistently surpassed the US$70 level, Brent Crude oil prices are currently at US$67.11 per barrel right now,” he added.
He said Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani had explained recently that every US$1 increase in the crude oil price would increase the government revenue by RM300 million.
See-To said Malaysia’s recent economic growth also meant that tax collections and other government revenue from dividends of GLCs had become stronger than expected.
“With our country’s budget deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio at its lowest since ten years ago in 2008, the government now has the flexibility to give some of its additional revenue back to the people,” he said.