In one corner, BN MPs claim that will balloon the nation’s deficit number. But in the other corner, Pakatan MPs say it is a workable financial blueprint.
KUALA LUMPUR: Two separate press conferences were held in Parliament today to argue for and against Pakatan Rakyat’s shadow budget.
In the Barisan Nasional corner there were Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan, Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri and Ledang MP Hamim Samuri.
In the Pakatan corner, the charge was led by PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramili, assisted by PKR MPs Nurul Izzah Anwar and William Leong, DAP MP Liew Chin Thong and PAS MP Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Rahman claimed that Pakatan’s shadow budget would balloon the nation’s deficit numbers to 57.8%, which was above the government approved 55% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He blamed this on Pakatan’s failure to include RM27.7 billion in their shadow budget operations expenditure, on top of the development expenditure of RM49 billion.
Among the items missed in the expenditure, he added, were emolument for civil servants and salary adjustments to fit the RM1,100 minimum wage policy.
The Sabah Umno secretary claimed that Pakatan made its projection based on Budget 2012 without considering the current increase in emolument for civil servants.
“The amount Pakatan missed for civil servants is RM2.6 billion.
“If the additional fund is not added, Pakatan will need to retrench about 72,000 civil servants if the worker earns RM36,000 annually,” he said.
For the minimum wage policy, Pakatan would require an additional RM4.4 billion to fund the policy for civil servants.
The balance RM20.7 billion missed in Pakatan’s expenditure were pensions, senior citizen bonus, debt management, subsidies, elimination of toll, higher education fund and reduction of oil prices.
“If you calculate all that, Pakatan’s shadow budget deficit will soar from the current projection of RM37.2 billion to RM76.7 billion, which is 57. 8% of our GDP,” he said.
Echoing Rahman’s thoughts, Kamalanathan said that Pakatan’s shadow budget was fiscally irresponsible and was done to mislead the rakyat.
“The shadow budget does not take into consideration of their promise to increase oil royalty to 20% for petroleum producing states. That will incur another RM12.5 billion in expenses,” he said.
Pakatan leaders must be realistic
Rahman said that a country’s sovereign ratings would be affected if the debt level soared beyond the government’s ability to manage it.
“Investors will lose confidence and banks will increase interest rates when you want to make borrowings later,” he said.
He urged Pakatan leaders to be realistic in their assessment and stop misleading the people with promises.
“Opposition leaders can say all they want but figures will not lie. Their policy would put our country in a mess,” he said.
Give us access to Treasury documents
However, PKR strategic director Rafizi debunked Rahman’s statement, saying that the expenditure was included in Pakatan’s shadow budget of RM232 billion.
“All that is included, funded by the 20% savings we are trying to achieve by reducing wastages and corruption.
“It’s not impossible as we have done the same amount of savings by having open tender system for infrastucture programmes in Penang and Selangor,” he said.
On civil servants’ pay and the minimum wage policy, Rafizi said that it would be funded, among others, by cutting the non-financial rewards allocated under the budget for civil servants.
“I suspect the houses bought for ministers are also funded by this non-financial rewards. All this will be reduced and channelled back to civil servants as direct pay,” he said.
Rafizi also explained that the reduction in toll and pensions payout would be done in stages, which was already explained in their shadow budget.
“If BN wants to nitpick on issue, then allow us access to Treasury documents so that we can really scrutinise the matter.
“It’s unfair that while we worked on the budget using only 12 people with some volunteers, BN uses the entire government machinery to debunk our budget. Let us work on a fair premise,” he said.
Nurul concurred with Rafizi and urged Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to establish the National Budgetary Office so that MPs would have full access on how the budget money was being spent.
“The US and the United Kingdom has it. It’s not too late for us,” she said.