Archive for category Budget Debate

Unable to handle GST, 68-year-old shuts up shop

by Looi Sue-Chern
The Malaysian Insider
18 March 2015

Moey Kok Meng and his family are clearing out his sundry shop in Air Itam. His final day of operation is next Wednesday.

“I am shutting down because of the GST (goods and services tax). I don’t think I can do business with the tax implemented,” he said.

Moey, 68, said he made the decision to close his shop, which has been in operation for 48 years, before Chinese New Year last month.

He said one of his three daughters had asked him if he was able to deal with the GST, and the question made him realise that he could not.

“I don’t know (how to operate) a computer. I don’t understand the system… how it works. Even after reading it and getting others explain to me, I am still unsure of how to do my business with it.

“I am just running a small, simple business. It is all giving me a headache, so I surrender,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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DAP proposes a two-day special Parliament meeting on Jan 26 and 27 on the revised 2015 Budget instead of Najib unilaterally announcing restructuring of the 2015 Budget in utter contempt not only of Parliament but also of Cabinet

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, seemed bent on announcing his restructured 2015 Budget tomorrow.

This will mean that the revised 2015 Budget is made not only without parliamentary sanction or approval, but also without Cabinet approval or sanction.

This is because the Cabinet would only meet the day after on Wednesday, January 21 2015.

This is most irregular and improper, revising the 2015 Budget after the Dewan Rakyat had approved the original budget on Nov. 25 after more than a month of debate, both on general policy as well as during the detailed committee stage, by MPs from both the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat in the Dewan Rakya

This could only mean that what the MPs from both BN and PR had said on the 2015 Budget, both during the policy and committee stage debate, were an utter waste of time, resources and effort as far as the Finance Minister was concerned!

Now Najib proposes to announce his revised 2015 budget tomorrow, when clearly it has not been cleared or approved by the Cabinet.
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It is not too late for Najib to convene a special meeting of Parliament to present the revised 2015 Budget

The question the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak must answer is why he is not convening a special meeting of Parliament to present the restructuring of the 2015 Budget.

As it is Parliament which approved the RM273.9 billion 2015 Budget, it is only right and proper, fully in accord with the principle of parliamentary democracy, that Najib should convene a special Parliament to present the restructured 2015 Budget because of the weakening of ringgit and the plunging oil prices.

It is not too late for Najib to do what is right, and convene a special meeting of Parliament to present the revised 2013 Budget as a special Parliament can be convened even within 48 hours. Otherwise, Najib would be showing utter contempt to Parliament and the principle of parliamentary democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Cabinet tomorrow to convene a special Parliamentary meeting end of this month to present a revised 2015 Budget

The Cabinet tomorrow should do what it should have done at its last Cabinet meeting for 2014 on Dec. 17 – to convene a Special meeting of Parliament this month to present a revised Budget 2015.

When the Budget 2015 was drawn up, it was based on the oil price assumption of US$100 (RM357) per barrel.

Since the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak presented Budget 2015 on Oct. 25, Brent crude prices had fallen from US$100 to a six year-low of US$47.36.

Oil and gas-related income is a backbone of the Malaysian economy as it currently accounts for 30% of the government’s total revenue.
With the plunge in crude oil prices, the Government is duty-bound to revise the 2015 Budget and seek parliamentary approval for revision of the 2015 Budget.

The Cabinet should decide on convening a Special Parliament before the end of January now that Prime Minister who is also Finance Minsiter has finally conceded today on the need to restructure the 2015 Budget. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget (5) -The Debt Bombshell: New Revelations

2015 Budget (5) – A Critique
by Economic Observer
19th October 2014

In his speech, the Prime Minister studiously avoided any reference to the size of the public debt which now requires an allocation of RM 23.2 billion or almost 11 percent of the Budget to service the accumulated debt of the Federal Government now estimated to amount to RM 568.9 billion accounting for 52.8 percent of GDP, a level marginally below the established ceiling.

These numbers exclude the contingent liabilities of the Federal Government and other off budget borrowings.

Nor did the Prime Minister mention the level of debt carried by households, now in excess of 85 percent of GDP.

What is wholly inexcusable is the failure on his part to refer to the bombshell dropped in the Treasury’s Economic Report concerning the size of the nation’s external debt.

The Economic Report discloses that Malaysia’s external debt totals RM 729 billion, equivalent to 67.6 percent of GDP. This compares with a debt level of RM 335.6 billion or 31.1 percent of GDP before the revision.

This more than doubling of the external debt cannot be swept under the carpet. It is shameless in the manner in which the Prime Minister dealt with the issue. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget (4) – The National Agenda: Increasing equity ownership of Bumiputeras

2015 Budget (4) – A Critique
by Economic Adviser
18th October 2014

In indicating a further RM 600 million to EKUINAS to enable it to increase Bumiputera corporate equity the Prime Minister observed that the Bumiputera have yet to achieve the 30% target.

He further noted their effective control over corporations is currently only around 10%.

The Prime Minister appears to be playing to the right-wing gallery in his party by making these assertions which are unsubstantiated.
No details have been provided or reference made to any rigorous study.

Even a cursory review shows that GLCs are almost entirely Bumiputera controlled. The GLCs listed on the stock exchange account for almost 30 percent of paid up capital. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget (3) – Implementing GST

2015 Budget (3) – A Critique
by Economic Observer
18th October 2014

The Prime Minister has attempted to offer soothing statements concerning the scope and coverage of the GST.

He has listed a whole list of items that will be exempted. While the list may be impressive, the value of the items that will be exempted remains shrouded.

Such claims as “ Of the 944 goods and services in the basket of goods of the CPI, the prices of 532 items or 56% are expected to reduce up to 4.1%.” or “Meanwhile, about 354 goods and services may experience some price increase but less than 5.8%” offer little clarity. No indication is given about the burden to be borne by an average household or the percentage by which the CPI will rise.

The Prime Minister indicated that the GST will yield RM 23.2 billion in gross revenue. However, with the implementation of GST, the Sales and Services Tax (SST), will be abolished resulting in revenue foregone of RM13.8 billion.

He went on to state: “This means that after deducting RM13.8 billion and RM3.8 billion from a revenue of RM23.2 billion, the Government will have a balance of RM5.6 billion.”

He went on to claim that of the total, RM4.9 billion was being channeled back to the rakyat through assistance programs such as the increase in BR1M.

“Finally, net revenue collection from GST will only amount to RM690 million.” This latter statement is remarkable indeed and is designed to minimize the collection from this new tax.

The Minister has side-stepped pertinent questions concerning the impact of the GST on middle and low income households by referring to the tax reductions. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget (2) – Economic Performance & Prospects

2015 Budget – A Critique (2)
by Economic Observer
17th October 2014

There exists a long held convention for the Annual Budget Speech to serve as a vehicle for reporting to the nation recent economic performance along with a candid account presenting near term prospects.

Sadly the Minister has chosen to ignore tradition.

In a speech of almost 30 pages, hardly a page and a half are devoted to a discussion of recent developments or the prospects for the year ahead. What little is said about recent performance consists of broad generalizations.

Growth merits a few lines; little is said about price developments, private consumption which is a measure of the people’s wellbeing.

Cynically much is made of the performance of the stock market but not a word is said about the growth in private debt or about the leakages that the economy has suffered through massive capital flight.

The reference to investment trends is based on data relating to approvals rather than actual investments. Read the rest of this entry »

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2015 Budget – Policy Challenges and Rhetoric

2015 Budget – A Critique (1)
by Economic Observer
17th Oct 2014

The Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister in his opening remarks observed that economic planning and policies of a country need to be adjusted according to developments and challenges in the domestic and external environment.

He went on to add that Malaysia is in need of a move to be an economy based on knowledge, high skills, expertise, creativity and innovation.

A laudable statement indeed which will not be disputed or attract criticism. However, this statement is nothing more than a platitude and rhetorical in scope. It is patently clear what the challenges are.

The nation is grappling with the dangers associated with the continued brain drain, and the continued neglect of the education system. Read the rest of this entry »

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A critique of the 2014 Budget Speech

by Budget analyst

A careful analysis of the 2014 Budget Speech by the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is most revealing and disappointing as there is little by way of an exposition of the challenges the economy faces.

The customary presentation of data on the performance, in the current year and prospects in the year ahead, are matters that are dismissed in a few perfunctory sentences.

The speech gives little information on basic macro-economic assumptions used in basing the revenue and expenditure forecasts that make up the Budget.

The speech gives no hint of how the Government proposes to deal with the less than robust external environment in which the key Malaysian export markets – China, US, the EURO zone – will continue to record sluggish demand.

The price for Malaysian oil and gas are likely to be weaker because of increasing supply from US shale oil and the re-entry of Iranian oil into global markets. With greater supply and lower demand, prices are likely to be lower. Malaysian oil and gas exports will undoubtedly feel the impact. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dua mesej Belanjawan 2014 – Malaysia terus menjadi negara yang “mempunyai jenayah besar, tetapi tiada penjenayah” dan para menteri pula kebal daripada tindakan undang-undang walaupun cuai dalam tugas

Beberapa jam sebelum Perdana Menteri merangkap Menteri Kewangan Datuk Seri Najib Razak membentangkan Belanjawan 2014 di Parlimen dan mengumumkan pelaksanaan Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan sebanyak 6% bermula April 2015, Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur membebaskan bekas Presiden MCA dan Menteri Pengangkutan Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik daripada tuduhan menipu kerajaan dalam skandal Zon Bebas Pelabuhan Klang (PKFZ) yang melibatkan berbilion-bilion ringgit.

Keputusan Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur itu membawa dua mesej yang memberi kesan langsung terhadap Belanjawan 2014, Rancangan Transformasi Nasional Najib dan arah tuju negara dan ekonomi Malaysia di masa depan, iaitu:

  • Malaysia terus menjadi negara yang “mempunyai jenayah besar, tetapi tiada penjenayah”, di mana rakyat Malaysia menjadi mangsa korupsi dan skandal raksasa dalam keadaan kerajaan dan agensi pencegahan rasuah, iaitu Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia, tidak mampu berbuat apa-apa untuk memerangi korupsi yang melibatkan “jerung” dan bukan hanya “ikan bilis”; dan

  • Menteri kabinet kini kebal daripada hukuman jika mereka cuai dalam menjalankan tugas rasmi, termasuk tugasan di peringkat kabinet.

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Improving budget management: Our obssession with the 55% debt ceiling

– Sakmongkol AK47
The Malaysian Insider
October 27, 2013

MPs were supplied with voluminous documents relating to the state of the economy. We were ploughing through the documents to analyse the management of the economy while Najib drone on waxing lyrical, poetic and at times, waxing sarcastic over his thematic budget. 2014 has another theme. The theme of the 2014 budget is ‘Strengthening economic resilience, accelerating transformation and fulfilling promises’. If that makes him happy, so be it. Giving an artful theme to the budget does not make it a better budget. The devil is in the details.

But where is the promise of giving RM1200 BR1M which he sold the voting public in last May’s elections? Where is the promise to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor?

Najib has reneged on this promise and stated poker-faced about paying out reduced BR1Ms. The scaled down BR1M hand-outs are downsized by the financial capacity of the government. Finally the chickens come home to roost. He has to face reality something the opposition MPs have warned continuously- that out of control spending is bad for the economy.

Public debt is now more than the 55% legislated debt ceiling simply because this government hides the real debt by various tricks. Eventually the weight of public debt will come down crushing. In 2013 alone, the deficit incurred by some GLCs amounted to RM93billion. When opposition MPs say this budget is for the rich, it wasn’t said out of spite. In 2013, the BR1M given to poor people amounted to RM7 billion.

Compare this to the freedom given to some GLCs to overspend by RM93 billion. The people who should be grateful are not the ordinary rakyat but the BN politicians and their corporate conspirators for being able to hide from the rakyat the magnitude of their extravagance. They should be grateful the public hasn’t turned on them yet. Maybe we should do a Louis and Marie Antoinette on them and that is not even Islamic law.

In the coming days, we will dissect his budget. Apart from minor jeering, we did not steal the Finance Minister’s thunder. We jeered only when he made political capital of certain portions of his presentation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Duo message of 2014 Budget – Malaysia continues to be land of “heinous crime without criminals” and Ministers enjoy immunity and impunity for Ministerial dereliction of duties

A few hours before the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak presented his 2014 Budget in Parliament announcing the regressive and controversial 6% Goods and Services Tax (GST) from April 2015, the Kuala Lumpur High Court acquitted and discharged former MCA President and Transport Minister Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik for cheating the government over the multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project scandal.

Without going into the details of the case against Liong Sik, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision carries two messages which have a direct bearing on the 2014 Budget, Najib’s National Transformation Plan and the future direction of the Malaysian nation and economy, viz:

• Malaysia continues to be a land of “heinous crimes without criminals”, with Malaysians victimized by mega corruption and scandals which neither the government nor the anti-corruption agency, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), could do anything to combat when confronted with “grand corruption” involving “big sharks” instead of “ikan bilis” in the Malaysian corruption waters; and

• Cabinet Ministers are now given a blank cheque to enjoy immunity and impunity for whatever dereliction of duties in the course of official duties, including up to Cabinet level.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib’s Budget 2014 acid test

Bridget Welsh
Oct 25, 2013

COMMENT Malaysia’s Budget 2014 represents the most important economic policy initiative of Najib Razak’s premiership. After scraping through GE13 and deal-making his way to an unchallenged presidency of Umno, there are no immediate political obstacles undermining his ability to implement the economic reforms he has repeatedly promised investors and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.

Najib has gone on record to claim that he will reduce government debt, tighten spending and make the Malaysian economy more competitive. International watchers were initially bought over by all the different acronyms coined by the government, such as the ETP (Economic Transformation Programme).

However, they have become increasingly negative with regard to Najib’s financial management which continued to involve massive overspending and this led to a negative rating by Fitch in July this year. With debt reaching 54 percent of gross domestic product, near the 55 percent government self-imposed limit, Malaysia stands on the precipice of future downgrades.

As the Budget debate begins, it is important to highlight some of the key issues and patterns that have characterised Najib’s tenure as prime minister. Read the rest of this entry »

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GST: killing the golden goose

– Liew Chin Tong
MP for Kluang
The Malaysian Insider
October 25, 2013

The proposed goods and services tax (GST) will tax those who can’t afford to be taxed, i.e. 60% of Malaysians who are eligible for BR1M. These are the people who will soon be taxed by the regressive tax, together with the rest of us who live and stay in this country.

I would like to drop the Orwellian double speak so prevalently employed by many GST apologists who are trying to mask the real issue. I will share my views plainly here.

Flawed arguments

Some argue that the government has to be cruel to be kind. Hence, BN would have us believe that the fuel hike subsidy rationalisation is needed to balance the government’s expenditure and ensure its good financial standing.

In theory, this sounds legit. However, look closer and you will find many flaws in the argument. For one, this argument does not take into account the adverse effects on the man on the street. It also demonstrates an incomplete understanding of how the economy grows or declines.

What is the real reason for the Barisan Nasional government to implement the GST? This tax has hung like a sword of Damocles over our heads since Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s era in 2005. Read the rest of this entry »

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No goodies, but gov’t splurges will continue

by Tony Pua
MP for PJ Utara
Oct 25, 2013

MP SPEAKS Stripping the 2014 Budget of its cosmetic makeup, taking away the glossy distractions and analysing the bare bones will provide an extremely clear indication that nothing much will change in Najib Abdul Razak’s second term as prime minister and finance minister .

The Economic Report 2013/14 gave the good news that the expected revenue collection for the current year 2013 is RM224.1 billion, or RM14.4 billion higher than the original budget projection of RM208.7 billion.

By right, the RM14.4 billion increase in revenue should have resulted in a lowered projected budget deficit of four percent to a market-euphoric 2.6 percent. The budget deficit for 2013 should have shrunk from RM39.9 billion to only RM25.6 billion.

However, it didn’t. Despite collecting the significantly higher-than-expected revenue, the deficit for 2013 remained at RM39.3 billion. It means that almost every single sen of extra revenue collected by the government is immediately expended, instead of contributing towards reducing our debt.

What is interesting when you comb through the expenditure figures is that despite the increase in revenue, the actual development expenditure of the government was RM2.7 billion lower than the budgeted RM47.8 billion.

The development expenditure has the larger economic multiplier effect because it represents investments by the government for future higher returns. Development expenditure includes building schools, hospitals and other public infrastructures.

The lower-than-budgeted development expenditure, the higher than expected government revenue means that the government’s operating expenditure exceeded the budget massively. The government overspent in operating expenditure by RM14.3 billion more the original budget of RM201.9 billion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Defence budget to come under Pakatan scrutiny

G Vinod | October 21, 2013
Free Malaysia Today

Pakatan Rakyat will only reveal details of its alternative budget later on fear that their ideas will be copied by Barisan Nasional

KUALA LUMPUR: A parliamentary select committee will scrutinise the Defence Ministry procurement to curb graft, said Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in announcing the Pakatan Rakyat alternative budget 2014 today.

“We will also look into postponing the National Service programme for next year until a review is done by a select committee.

“The programme costs us RM800 million annually. On top of that, 22 trainees have died undergoing the programme and we have cases of female trainees giving birth during their three-month stint,” Anwar said at a press conference at the Parliament lobby.

Also present were DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, PAS’ Kamaruddin Jaafar and several Pakatan parliamentarians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why this year’s budget would be less interesting

– Muhammad Nazreen
The Malaysian Insider
October 20, 2013

In the next few weeks, everybody is anticipating the key issues that may be highlighted in the 2014 budget. Malaysia’s mounting public debt is at an alarming rate. Recurring deficits over years due to government’s overspending would be a primary reason why is this year’s budget would be less populist. The BN government managed to secure its win during the 13th general election. So, we could expect less windfall subsidies and pay-offs to be distributed. However, the deteriorating condition of Malaysia’s economy might prompt the fact that it is timely for the government to introduce stern fiscal consolidation. Austerity measures are likely the main ingredients of the upcoming budget.

Here are some of the concerns. Read the rest of this entry »

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Budget 2013: Federal government subsidies go up in flames while poor Malaysians watch

By Teh Chi-Chang, CFA
Executive Director
REFSA (Research for Social Advancement)
Friday, 12 October 2012

We write to rebut Dr Lim Teck Ghee’s assertion that “There is little empirical research to back up what has become an increasingly popular line of argument” that blanket subsidies such as for cheap petrol and sugar “benefit upper-class Malaysians who consume much more than their poorer cousins[1]”.

These are the basic facts:

  1. The federal government subsidy bill is expected to exceed RM42 billion this year.

  2. If we can agree that subsidies should go only to the poor, and we define the poor as the bottom 1/3rd of households, there will be 2.3 million households or nearly 10 million Malaysians[2] who will get subsidies.

  3. RM42 billion is enough to give these bottom 1/3rd of households RM1,650 per month – which will more than double their current incomes of RM1,500 per month!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Voices of reason

— Foong Li Mei
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 07, 2012

Oct 7 — Tired of politicians’ mudslinging and dirty tricks? We are, too. Thankfully, the panelists at REFSA’s recent forum showed that our country still has political leaders who rise above the muck to focus on working for the best interest of Malaysia.

Her crisp and confident voice swept through the packed hall with grace and conviction. It was nothing like the ferocity fired from the top of the lungs that one has come to expect whenever a political figure is handed a microphone.

She emphasised that politicians should not be given full control of the country’s finances. She spoke of the need for an independent authority to release a pre-Budget report that serves as a reference point for the actual Budget, much like the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) in the UK.

She urged Malaysians to remain vigilant over government spending, and insist on having a say in how tax monies are spent. Read the rest of this entry »

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