Friday 12 October 2012

Pakatan on budget: Our numbers stand

  • Aidila Razak
  • 3:55PM Oct 11, 2012
Members of the Pakatan Rakyat budget team today refuted claims that their shadow budget does not tally.

Speaking to reporters, they said that it is a "lie" to say that their "people-friendly" programmes were not included in the expenditure estimates in the Pakatan budget.

NONE"It is a clear lie to say (the programmes) are not included... It is possible for us to pay for all these with the 20 percent targeted savings," PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli (right) said.

These programmes are the removal of highway tolls, free education, abolition of higher eduction student loans, minimum wage of RM1,100 for civil servants, senior citizen bonus and 20 percent oil royalty for oil-producing states, gradual excise tax cuts and Caruman Wanita Nasional.

He added that if anything, the figures mentioned by Deputy Finance Minister Husni Hanadzlah to rebut the Pakatan budget show that their estimates are on track.

NONEThis contrasts with BN’s Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin’s much greater estimates, in his article on Pakatan's proposed policies in theEdge, he said.

Rafizi also said that 20 percent savings is a tenable target considering that the Selangor administration under Pakatan has managed to save 24 percent or RM106 million in civil engineering contracts in the first month of 2012.

'Emolument budget won’t slash jobs'

Of the programmes listed above, the only estimate that is far lower than the government’s estimate is the cost of RM1,100 minimum wage for civil servants.

Pakatan estimates that it costs RM2 billion while Husni said it would cost RM4.4 billion.

Rafizi said Pakatan’s estimate is based on the number of civil servants currently earning less than RM1,100 and that the government’s estimate likely includes others who are earning more than RM1,100 and who will go up the salary scale as a result.

“The others are managed by the eight percent increase of emolument,” he said, pointing to Pakatan’s estimate of RM56 million for emolument.

“We also look at salary hikes for ministers, allowances for advisers, etc.”

He added that Husni “took a cheap shot” at Pakatan by claiming that RM2 billion shortfall between Pakatan’s and the government’s emolument allocation would put 72,000 people out of jobs.

He said that the increase of RM4 billion allocated to emoluments compared to 2011 is more than enough to pay salaries and cuts would actually be made to the  “RM1 billion for non-financial rewards”.

“These are perks, and RM1 billion is too high,” he said, noting that this all-inclusive term is open to abuse.

Rafizi added that Husni’s move to get the treasury officials to “find ways to rebut the Pakatan budget is abuse of power”.

‘Hijacked budget debates’

“It seems that we have successfully hijacked the budget debates... So to encourage more democratic discourse, we urge the formation of an independent non-partisan parliamentary budget office be formed,” he said.

He said that this would allow both sides of the divide access to information and analysis on the budget so that decisions can be done in a more transparent manner.

Also at the press conference was Rafizi’s team member and DAP’s Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong, who said that the battle should not be more than numbers but more on policy thrust and philosophy.

“The BN government is finding excuses to reject out policy proposals, with the debate reduced to why the Pakatan policy is wrong,” he said.

Agreeing with this, PAS’ Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkefly Ahmad said the Pakatan budget looked to dismantle monopolistic or oligopolistic practices, to raise higher disposable income.

NONERafizi’s explanation also counters a statement made by BN’s Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan (left), who claimed that the Pakatan budget could bump deficit up to 10 percent or RM76.6 billion.

Rahman, who spoke at a separate press conference in the Parliament building prior to Rafizi’s rebuttal, also claimed that the programmes, including the oil royalty promise, were not included in the budget.

“Anwar, Nurul Izzah, Lim Kit Siang and Hadi can lie but figures don’t lie,” he said, basing his arguments on a Finance Ministry-issued “talking points” on the Pakatan budget.

BN's Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan added that a hike in deficit will also put Malaysia’s credit ratings at risk.

Also at the press conference was BN’s Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri, who said the government is under global scrutiny and cannot afford to blatantly lie like the opposition.

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