Barisan Nasional’s Budget 2012 is like a sugar-coated placebo – makes you feel good after taking it, only to tax you more later

by Tony Pua
8 Oct 2011

It is difficult not to “feel good” after a record-breaking pre-election budget where goodies big and small, were liberally handed out to practically all segments of society. The question is, beneath the sweeteners, are there substantive reforms proposed in the Budget 2012 to make “transformative” changes to our economy to achieve the goal of becoming a “high-income nation” by 2020.

The answer, when compared side by side with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Alternative Budget is obvious. There is little in the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government’s budget that indicates a determination to slaughter sacred cows and take the Malaysian economy to the next level.

Both the PR and BN’s budgets had proposed cash grants to various deserving segments of society in order to help alleviate their increasingly heavy burdens. However, PR matched its welfare benefits with policies to rectify the distortions created by the current government to reduce inflationary pressures and the cost of living over the longer term.

PR has called for the abolition of artificial monopolies licensed by the Government such as Bernas which monopolises the sale and distribution of local and imported rice. In addition, predatory market strategies by Telekom Malaysia to stifle competition will be made illegal while the monopoly of satellite and cable television will be abolished.

On top of that we will dismantle cartels in the telecommunication, media, airline, oil and gas as well as other industries to ensure a genuine competitive market which will benefit the man on the street with lower prices.

What’s more, we have promised drastic changes to the current privatisation policies which are opaque, uncompetitive and clearly benefit the concessionaires at the expense of the Government and the rakyat. The 2-prong strategy demands the renegotiation or expropriation of current concession assets such as independent power producers, highway and water companies, while putting in place an open, transparent and competitive framework to ensure only the parties with the best services at the lowest price will be awarded the relevant contracts in the future.

Under PR for example, all Approved Permits to import cars will be auctioned not only to increase government revenue, but also to ensure only genuine businessmen and not rent-seeking middle-men secure the rights.

PR has also committed to transform our labour market in the interest those who are paid suppressed wages by instituting a minimum wage of RM1,100 per month. This will ensure that all workers will receive a humane subsistence wage. The measure will not only stimulate domestic demand in our economy, it will also increase the attractiveness of hiring local workers as opposed to foreign workers while phasing out low value-added industries.

It is only with these institutional and structural changes, can we be assured of lower cost of living in the middle and longer term. The budget announced by the Prime Minister has instead chosen to prescribe pain-killers which will ease the rakyat’s suffering in the short term, without the medication to cure the actual illness.

In fact when comparing the two budgets, had PR used the more optimistic BN revenue assumptions of RM186.9 billion and our planned expenditure of RM220 billion, the projected deficit of PR’s budget would further decline to 3.8%, significantly lower and healthier than BN’s 4.7%. This proves that PR can provide not just the “pain-killers” with welfare grants and “cure” the economy by removing artificial barriers to lower cost of living; we can do it all by spending less, and incurring lower debts than BN.

The above also shows that with good governance and the necessary political will to reform and restructure our economy, there will be no need for the Government to further tax the rakyat via BN’s proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST). Therein lies the fundamental difference between BN and PR’s budget – the former prescribes a sugar-coated placebo that makes you feel good in the short term only to tax you more later, while the latter seek to ease the pain and cure the illness at the lowest possible cost.

(Tony Pua is DAP National Publicity Secretary and Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara)

  1. #1 by k1980 on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 11:42 am

    PUTRAJAYA, Oct 6 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tonight monitored final preparations involving Finance Ministry”s staff ahead of tomorrow”s tabling of the 2012 Budget.

    Najib, who is Finance Minister, spent about one hour at the ministry, during which he also chaired a closed-door meeting with senior ministry officials.

    Present were his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, Deputy Finance Ministers Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin and Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai. Treasury Secretary-General Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan as well as Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz were also present.

    Najib is scheduled to table Malaysia”s 2012 Budget at the Dewan Rakyat at 4pm.

    Why was his wife present when she is holds no position in the govt?

  2. #2 by cskok8 on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 12:06 pm

    The problem with our taxi service can be solved by giving the permits directly to the drivers. But of course BN would not allow that since their cronies currently own most of the permits that are rented to the drivers. After all one minister is not known as “*azri teksi” for nothing.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 12:56 pm

    What does a pampered Prince from Pekan know about budgeting.
    It’s all his advisers ideas how to win 13th GE.
    What does he know about practicality and reality?
    Malaysians rejoice over all the good news.
    What will be the after effect?
    It shows he depends on civil servant votes against People’s Power….man in the street…a sort of Malays against others…..which includes a large chunk of Muslims against UMNO b too.
    The stage is set for 13th GE.
    When will it be?
    Perhaps after few weeks to check the reactions.
    No one is excited…delay again …and as long as he can.

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 1:06 pm

    ‘Transformasi’ is like taking drugs. You get high, you feel ‘good’. You are a zombie and smile all the time.

    But when the effects wears off, reality will hit you like a rock.

    Is this why we have so many drug cases?

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 1:20 pm

    Losimah not bothered abt NR’s budget, she is VERY ANGRY, fuming, n MAD at d Norwegian Nobel Committee 4 not awarding her d 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, but 2 3 other women; how dare they did dis 2 her, no more eating Norwegian SALMON 4 d short fat lady of M’sia

  6. #6 by dagen on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 2:22 pm


    Doesnt the nobel prize award committee realise that what they did was in fact anti-islam jenis umno, anti-umno, anti-agung, unpatriotic, ungrateful, an act of communism and terrorism etc etc.

  7. #7 by Jong on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 2:25 pm

    Of cos that woman was aware cameras would be there and she wanted to be noticed!

    So what she was there, she needs to know if there’s enough for her to buy another multi-million$$$ diamond!

  8. #8 by boh-liao on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 4:18 pm

    Loud screams of frustration heard in Putrajaya, ALL d super expensive diamonds n handbags in d world CANNOT compensate 4 d failure 2 win d 2011 Nobel Peace Prize

  9. #9 by monsterball on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 5:27 pm

    Tony Puah has challenged Najib to make Malaysia stronger with his points put to Najib.. …to make sure..the feeling good….. will last permanently….and not suddenly feeling so bad…like thunderstorm coming.. preparations for floods …and the said thunderstorm…out to drown all Malaysian properties and bankrupt Malaysia.
    But you can be sure….Najib will never listen ….as his budget is focusing to win votes..all published in papers…all the good news…Najib and DPM smiling…..with DPM..wearing exactly same red shirt…indirectly telling Najib…he is no more a DPM…but equal to him in all ways.
    Not once in the history of dressing…you find the DPM wear same as PM.
    He has to check things and make sure…not to shame the PM.
    This shows quite clear…..PM and DPM are not in talking friendly terms.
    It’s a boat that leaks and everyone in it pretend it is built to last forever.

  10. #10 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 5:42 pm

    Actually the unrealistic deficit projection means that GST is 100% on the cards after the GE..So all the goodies will be taken back as soon as its given out..

  11. #11 by monsterball on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 5:56 pm

    And in Parliament…Najib have brushed off Anwar’s criticisms of his election campaign budget.
    He said it will all work and come true.
    Strange as it may seem….he had lead as PM for almost 3 years…and we never see any improvement over our economy…..things getting dearer and dearer….more and more taxes needed to manage the country.
    Najib can only convince People Power when things get cheaper making life better for all Malaysians….especially the poor and muddle class…all not just for civil servants only….and taxes lowered to ease the difficulties for all.
    How can one announces o much good news when Malaysians are feeling the pains and aches how to manage their families?
    Sure…oil….timber….palm oil…income…not stolen should see money earned not stolen…can make Najib’s vote buying idea work with more civil servants supporting him…but the percentage of smart voters are growing and growing…and these smart voters…especially the young ones…be it in civil servants or wage earners from commercial firms….can surf internet and read the arguments.
    Like his “1Malaysia”….’People First. Performance Now” slogans…..both hollow promises….both trying hard to fish for more votes….down and down the survey showed.
    The Budget is his last try to fish for more votes?
    How long does Najib thinks he can keep on fooling Malaysians….even though all his fooling never worked at all?

  12. #12 by monsterball on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 6:49 pm

    I have a strange feeling…many civil servants will have financial loan troubles….. if all do not get more money.
    Now…the problems will be from commercial firms wage earners…..and soon…like in the early 70s..Min of Labour calling commercial bosses…. “heartless”

  13. #13 by yhsiew on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 10:58 pm

    ///after taking it, only to tax you more later….///

    Agreed. They will get back everything they give us through implementing the GST after GE13.

  14. #14 by waterfrontcoolie on Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 11:42 pm

    I truely believe all the goodies will be reciprocated by the GST when it is enforced after the GE! Even the 2% allowance to the pensioners will mean nothing as the real impact of GST won’t be just 4%; but between 12 to 16% because of the very poor data collection by the Gomen. Without a strong data process, abises eother inadvertently or actually created will burden the very poor of this nation! By then, Malaysians will be caught with their pants down!

  15. #15 by chengho on Sunday, 9 October 2011 - 5:06 am

    Every year when there is budget, there will be goodies (except in 1997 when Anwar slapped us with IMF-ish budget). Some things that you are enjoying right now came from previous years budget. So, it is not due to PR. As Najib pointed out in his Budget speech, when Pakatan just a couple of months before came out with ‘Negara Kebajikan’, BN had already done and continuously doing it; with or without PR…….

  16. #16 by monsterball on Sunday, 9 October 2011 - 9:43 am

    What are we enjoying now came from the previous budget?
    Tell us the details.
    Are Malaysians FEELING GOOD like Najib …after visiting Ijok?
    Good…. let him announce the 13th GE date.
    We are all waiting.

  17. #17 by monsterball on Sunday, 9 October 2011 - 10:02 am

    Chengho…since you said Najib has done this or that…and you obviously FEELING GOOD… Najib…can you tell us why the long delay for the 13th GE?
    Najib was appointed….not elected as PM for such a long long time.
    Why so? Why say do or die to his UMNO b goons…..if he is so right?
    aiya.. Chengho…nice to see you back…but you keep talking with longkang smell stuffs,
    Why like that?

  18. #18 by monsterball on Sunday, 9 October 2011 - 10:17 am

    If you read carefully Najib’s budget…it is simply…”I help you. You help me”….but now…instead of talking to Rajang Park residence in Sibu…he is talking to all Malaysians.
    It is his do or die idea how to win votes….and if anyone like Chengho thinking Najib is so sincere and a man of his words…who delivers whatever he promises…then something wrong with Chengho’s sense of logic and memories too.
    Najib is focusing on civil servants benefiting the most…shows how he thinks …treating his own race….waiting always for UMNO b handouts…again and again.
    While we rejoice with the good news for the chosen ones…his wheeling and dealing characteristics never changed one bit..treating Malaysians like children and fools.

  19. #19 by boh-liao on Sunday, 9 October 2011 - 10:38 am

    It’s time 2 stop ONE person holding 2 impt cabinet posts; greedy incompetent NR hangs on2 2 posts n messed up both posts, ended up with RM d REAL pm

  20. #20 by Bigjoe on Monday, 10 October 2011 - 3:13 pm

    Bird’s of a feather flocks together.

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