Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak’s labelling of Pakatan Rakyat’s Belanjawan 2012: Kesejahteraan Untuk Semua as a “right-wing Republican budget that failed to address the needs of the people” is uncalled for. This is a clear attempt to deflect from the fundamental issue of poor governance, endemic corruption and BN policies to enrich family members and cronies .
The best avenue to discuss economic programs for the rakyat is through a nationally televised debate, which I have proposed since Pakatan Rakyat launched Buku Jingga in December 2010. A public discourse on economic policy contestation between Pakatan Rakyat and his administration will benefit the country, especially at this juncture when our economy is entering an uncharted territory and compounded by his administration’s failure to resuscitate the under-performing economy .
Dato’ Seri Najib should also share the widespread sentiment of concerns over the rising level of national debt, instead of making a mockery of it through BN controlled media.
The national debt level is governed by various acts of parliament that impose a debt ceiling for the government. In accordance with Act 637 Loan (Local) Act 1959 (revised 2004) and Act 275 Government Investment Act 1983, the combined loans raised locally should not exceed a ceiling of 55% of the nation’s GDP. Act 403 External Loans Act 1963 (revised 1989) limits the external loans exposure to RM35 billion at any particular time.
On top of the debt ceiling imposed by the acts, the national treasury also follows strict guidelines to strengthen the fiscal discipline, even before my tenure as the Finance Minister. For example, the proposed operational budget for a particular year should never exceed the revenue projection. Likewise, loans raised by the government should strictly be used for developmental budget.
Thus, the public debate on the alarming national debt level has become a legal issue of national significance as Dato’ Seri Najib’s administration is in serious danger of breaching the national debt ceiling and is complicit to conceal the fact from the public.
Bank Negara Malaysia’S latest report (updated 14 October 2011) shows that the national debt stands at RM437 billion for the period ended 30 June 2011, with a breakdown of RM421 billion of local debts and RM16 billion foreign debts. This translates to a 51% local debt-to-GDP ratio as governed by Acts 637 and 275, which allows for approximately RM33 billion additional debt to be raised by the government. This is clearly not adequate to finance the remainder of 2011 expenditure and the RM46 billion deficit to be funded through additional debts announced in Barisan Nasional’s Belanjawan 2012.
The rakyat is also well aware that the 5%-6% growth projection used in 2012 budget is unrealistic and it is likely that his administration will have to rely heavily on debts to fund his election promises.
Therefore, a policy debate on economy has become an urgent necessity against this backdrop of unconvincing economic data and a series of “one-off” election payments to a handful of electoral groups that will not improve the state of the economy. If Dato’ Seri Najib is truly convinced that his economic agenda will benefit the rakyat, let him reason it in a public debate including justification for his refusal to implement structural economic changes such as a universal minimum wage for all workers and the dismantling of monopolies in public goods and services....
DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM
LEADER OF OPPOSITION
17 OCOTBER 2011