PETALING JAYA: Umno Youth has challenged the government to show in this Friday’s budget presentation how it plans to boost Malaysia’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.
“We have no obvious competitiveness on the global stage,” said the wing’s vice-chief, Shahril Hamdan.
“Asking Malaysians to drink palm oil or be proud of flying cars isn’t going to cut it.”
Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said in April she would encourage Malaysians to take a spoonful of red palm oil a day for their health, and Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Yusof announced in August that work to build Malaysia’s first flying car was 85% complete.
Shahril told FMT he hoped to hear, from the budget proposals, at least an introduction to a plan to find new sources of long-term competitiveness.
He said the government currently had no ostensible plan to position Malaysia as a global giant in such sectors as the halal industry, Islamic finance and manufacturing.
He recalled that Pakatan Harapan used to mock the previous administration’s transformation programmes and other economic initiatives.
Those plans, he said, at least recognised and addressed structural challenges.
Shahril also said the budget proposals should outline clearly how the government intends to deal with unemployment and the impending slowdown in global growth.
MCA vice-president Ti Lian Ker called for strategies to improve the economy that would inspire the confidence of investors.
“Don’t come up with a budget as if our economy is in the pink of health,” he said. “Take into account the impending economic slowdown.”
He cautioned the government against announcing a populist budget that could not be implemented.
“Plan for the common people, not as if you’re out to win votes,” he said.
Ti also said he would like to see a budget that recognises the needs of those Malaysians falling under the middle 40% (M40) of income earners.
“My concern is that while we are too focused on the B40 (bottom 40%), we could be trading off the interests of the M40,” he said.
PSM central committee member S Arulchelvan said his party would like to see the government raising the minimum wage to RM1,500 this year instead of some time in the next five years.
“The domestic market will improve if there is more spending power,” he said.
He also said there was a big demand for houses costing RM100,000 and less and urged Putrajaya to look into building more of them.
He alleged that the government was currently building houses most people could not afford.