Najib’s ‘muruku’ budget

Amanah crunches on Najib’s ‘muruku’ budget

Biting into Budget 2017 after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak tabled it last week, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) dismissed the Supply Bill as mere “muruku” or finger food that taste good at the outset but will do nothing to address the nation’s hunger for fiscal stability and reforms.

Amanah strategic director Dzulkefly Ahmad admitted that the “sweeteners” slipped in by Najib into the budget like higher BR1M payouts and other goodies created a whole lot of good feelings for the short term.

“But how long can one be sated by what feels and tastes good? Only as long as there is something to munch on while waiting for more substantial food. Like guests given ‘muruku’ whilst visiting a friend’s house during Deepavali.

“The ‘muruku’ tastes good. Of course. But if until night time the guests are still only given ‘muruku’, it is strange and something must be wrong,” Dzulkefly wrote in a blog post today.

Despite the feel-good goodies, Dzulkefly said Budget 2017 fell short of really addressing economic issues and the rakyat’s concerns.

He pointed out that first and foremost the budget featured RM262.8 billion total figure, but most of it is for operating budget which stands as RM214.8 billion.

Only RM48 billion or 18.3 percent is allocated for development expenditure, and further more, only RM25.9 billion is marked for economic development at a time when our economy needs more stimulus and development amidst a slowing global economy.

Dzulkefly claimed Najib had a habit of “hiding” allocations for economic stimulation via off-budget spending, mostly because these were funded by debts which the government did not want to appear on the budget proper.

“These debts are not counted or seems ‘visible’ in the balance sheet as debts or liabilities. Thus, they are hidden. And national finances looks healthy,” said the Amanah leader.

The same theme is prevalent in how debts were hidden in government-linked firms which however continued to be the contingent liabilities that must be borne by the government via debt guarantees despite not appearing in the balance sheet proper.

The government’s BR1M sweetener also fell off the mark said Dzulkefly explaining that the mere pittance given won’t last for long and indeed meant nothing as the rising costs of living more than offset the one-off payment.

The money would have been better spent to reduce tolls, providing childcare services and other measures that could take the edge off rising living costs for the populace.

Dzulkefly also said that allowing more people to drive ride-sharing services like Uber would not solve the long-term need to create decent income and more jobs.

Nor would such short-term flashy promises address the long-term need to increase the productivity of the existing workforce.

He also pointed out helping more people to get loans for housing would not help solve the issue of depressed wages. As even when they now qualify for loans, they still have to struggle to make ends meet and pay off the loans.

Dzulkefly reminded Najib that only 2.1 million workers fall under the category of tax-payers as the rest of the 14.6 million workers fall below the tax bracket, something that should illustrate how low our wages are.

The Amanah leader also lambasted the cut in research and development funding for universities as something that bode ill for our future development.

Dzulkefly sniped that other then tasting as good as ‘muruku’, Najib’s Budget 2017 only other merit is that its theme of “Menjamin Perpaduan dan Pertumbuhan Ekonomi, Menghemah Perbelanjaan Inklusif, Mensejahtera Kehidupan Rakyat Seluruh” is the longest since Merdeka.

Amanah crunches on Najib’s ‘muruku’ budget
27 Oct 2016 – malaysiakini


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