Bridget : The Budget
Having read the MOF Zafrul’s response earlier today, my reaction was the exact opposite.
He pandered to old racialized stereotypes, he somehow thinks that being the largest is a ‘good’ thing without properly addressing concerns about waste, graft and need for rethinking size and focus of governance/government, he failed to address concerns of SMEs business (which are deepening in the erratic governance), the answers on unemployment and economic growth only reinforced view that the government has no plan/vision, he claims he is not a politician, but the budget is a political budget appealing to his government’s base.
Key issues were ignored. No mention was made of concerns of Borneo or the Indian community, for example. He continues to reinforce the view the EPF contributions are a ‘gift’ from government rather than taxpayers’ money. No real discussion was made of serious problems in how health funds are being spent, leaving out critical areas, of how minimalistic the actual social protections measures are.
The underlying projection figures remain overly optimistic (most growth sectors now are not job-creating) and lack transparency without any revenue measures. I think there are good substantive reasons to have doubts about the budget and whether parts of it should be passed.
Given the political realities of a minority government there are also reasons to doubt whether in its current form it can pass parliament. It only takes a few to oppose. Politicking is rife. Significant amendments may be needed. Keep in mind that history shows that pandemics usually take three years and this budget does not take account of the longer-term needs ahead. It is still short-term thinking about deeper problems the country is facing.