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.

Declining educational standards and failure to take corrective measures are stark and undeniable realities that are taking their toll.

The system churns unemployable graduates lacking skills or knowledge. Our universities, despite the billions spent, are little more than factories churning out graduates lacking skills and knowledge.

Quality has been sacrificed for quantity. The nation lacks the knowledge and skill base and yet little is being done to address these glaring anomalies. This is not the path we need to tread to truly attain developed country status.

The Prime Minister can dream on but the hard reality is that his administration has failed miserably to correct and arrest the decline.

The current budget presented an opportunity to deal with these issues through a bold rethink but sadly the Prime Minister has yet again demonstrated an inability to go beyond mouthing niceties and hopes.

The lack of an ability to translate these niceties into actionable programs is telling and the Prime Minister appears to be living in a make believe world far removed from reality.

His statement that people on the ground, whether in rural and urban areas, may not comprehend or appreciate the relevance of the budget to them is an insulting and patronizing statement.

The people have expectations and an awareness; they expect leadership but it is not forthcoming.

His claim about the steadfastness of the Government in addressing fiscal governance is amazing considering that the debt problem was created by the BN beginning in the late 1990s.

Ever since the onset of the East Asia financial crisis in 1998, the successive BN administrations have not presented a balanced budget.

The policies followed have been reckless. The large public sector fiscal deficits have led to the accumulation of a mountain of public debt.

Public debt has reached unsustainable levels; equally alarming is the fact that private household debt is now in excess of 85 percent of GDP.

These irresponsible fiscal and budgetary policies have contributed to an unwarranted burden on generations to come. These policies have widened income disparities; millions of Malaysians live on the margins of poverty.

These rather bleak circumstances remain unaddressed in the policy package outlined by the Minister which are largely unchanged from earlier budget submissions.

He is less than candid in acknowledging the true state of affairs that exist.

The Prime Mister must deliver change or he will be changed.

(to be continued)

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Friday, 17 October 2014 - 11:20 am

    You know what is wrong with the Budget?- we are talking about it – as if its the main matter with regards to our economic policy and future, as if somehow we change the budget, we change the more basic economic policy and future. Its not true.

    The fact is structurally, our economic structure is UNSOUND. We are growing services when our industrialization is actually declining while a big part of our economy is still agriculture and commodity base. In other words, its fragmented the risk is we have the people’s economic is fragmented leading to social fragmentation. Its the core of why so many people are eligible for BR1M and transfer payment is but political narcotics that actually hallucinates disurgency to fix the problem.

    We will never generate enough high paying jobs with services in this country because we basically botched our path to industrialization and internationalization of our economy. Change in population means that its eventually our agriculture and commodity dependencies becomes not an asset but a burden which eventually we can’t afford.

    What we will have eventually is class warfare – based on income and privilleges. Our education system, even if they improve it, will not fix it. Education is no magic. It can’t create jobs – at best provide labour to fill jobs and ours can at best be a subsidy for investments – a very expensive and poorly managed subsidy.

    The only mitigating thing about the coming class warfare, is that given the feudalism in our country, its not unlimited how far it will go.. But like all warfare, most of us will get tired of it and hence most of us will chose what all victims of warfare do – we leave..

  2. #2 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 17 October 2014 - 11:47 am

    It is undeniable that the fundamental education policy has been planned and implemented with the sole objective of pulling its citizens by their nose. Commonsense policies would have saved the nation billions but then how would you get your cut out of the system? Get piratization going under the notion that their cronies can do a better and more efficient means to siphon the cash out the coffer. When the pirates failed, of course their irated projects will fail becuase of the out of the world costs involved. They then blame the semi-educated graduates that they are unable to cope with modern technology! Consequently, they will need to employ more consultants; especially from nations which lag behind us in development; this is to ensure more studies can be undertaken during the remaining term of office! So Malaysians, how can we describe you all? At least you are asked to categorize yourself!!

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