Sunday 22 May 2011

Slash graft before cutting subsidies

'This illegal leakage is costing the nation to bleed, thus the reason behind the need to cut subsidies for the rakyat.'

Idris presses his case on cutting subsidies

Patriot: Subsidy cuts could be kept to a minimum so as to not burden the poor people struggling hard to earn a living to take care of their numerous domestic and external expenditures if there is proper and prudent governance and the elimination of servicing the cronies' insatiable monetary wants.

What is being very prominently reported is the increase in government expenses on subsidies would be insurmountable based on current global trends and escalations.

However, the government never informs us how much could be saved if funds are properly utilised that could be ultimately channeled into covering some of the increases in the prices of commodities and foodstuff in order not to burden the poor.

Bluemountains: Pemandu CEO Idris Jala is driving BN into the 'grave' faster with his cutting of subsidies. The masses cannot understand national economics. They can only understand household economics. When their household economics is in trouble, BN is in trouble.

If the government leaders failed to manage the economy of the nation, they must resign and not make the masses the victims of their incompetence. If you don't buy submarines, you don't need to cut subsidies.

Cannon: It is reported in the Star yesterday that the government is seeking to expand the arms production of the Malaysian arms company, SME Ordinance. I don't understand why the government must buy 14,000 Colt M4 carbines for our armed forces, and contract for another 116,000 when the country is facing budget constraints.

How does the Defence Ministry justify spending money on arms when we are cutting back on the people's bread and butter? Idris Jala, sort out these misplaced priorities and have the administration put in order its public expenditure before talking to the people about subsidy cuts.

Can Idris honestly admit the government has done all it could - and has met its moral obligation - to combat graft and rationalise its administration before cutting back on subsidies?

As a Christian brother, where is his compassion for the needy and the weak? Has Idris given any thought about the poor, especially those staying in the towns and cities who are faced with a rising cost of living due to price increases and who need that extra subsidy to live?

He should have come up with a scheme to cover for the poor before removing the subsidies. This gives meaning to Najib Razak's 'people first, performance now' credo. Idris is doing just the opposite, cut the subsidies to the people now and to let them worry how to make their ends meet.

Quigonbond: Obviously Pemandu's ideal is not matched by consistent government actions. The MRT project itself is so opaque no one knows how much will actually be involved and whether the money used will put many more generations of Malaysians in long-term debt.

What happened to the open-tender process for all government procurement projects, in particular defence procurement that tend to go into billions of ringgit? How about hidden costs of doing business in Malaysia in terms of greasing Umno/BN politicians' bottomless pockets?

What about letting loose cretins like Perkasa, Pembela and Utusan Malaysia that drives even more 'brains' out of Malaysia? What about a disenfranchised electorate who thinks that in most parts we do not have a legitimate government since general elections are won through bribes, resulting in less public cooperation?

What about failed enforcement, selective prosecution, dirty politics and failed education system? If these long list of problems are not resolved, we will remain uncompetitive.

AnakPinang: Corruption and bad governance is the reason for our predicament, not subsidies. I don't know who they are trying to fool with this stupid term 'rationalisation'. There's nothing rational about it and by trying to convince us that we are the ultimate benefactor of a painful weaning is just more bull.

The rakyat are tired of these games. So if BN doesn't clean up, we need to get new people in who can do it.

Borg Kinaulu: I believe Idris has a winning formula - gradually cut subsidies now, then when Pakatan Rakyat wins control of Putrajaya, we can improve transparency and cut corruption. And when the economy becomes healthier, we can gradually slim down the government sector with some civil servants finding real productive jobs in the private sector.

It will probably take at least another decade to do that, but at least it looks like something positive to look forward to in 2020. Thank you, Idris. Being a non-political technocrat, I presume you will remain in the government to serve the people, whichever side wins.

MalaysianSrilankan: Price increase should be done slowly as not to cause sudden hardship to people and prevent profiteering. However, the question must be whether subsidies should be cut to allow the price increase in the first place?

The government insisted that the inflation rate is low whereas prices of almost everything, especially food, has gone up much higher. Purchasing power has dropped and the same amount of money gets far less than before, even compared to last year.

Add to the fact that income has stagnated for a large part of workers, even a small increase of prices can literally send families into the poorhouse. Malaysia doesn't have a social welfare system to help poor families and the needy. Whatever the Welfare Department gives out is piecemeal and very much insufficient.

The government must first cut down their own costs before causing hardship to the people.

Ferdtan: Not once did Idris Jala mention the scourge of society - corruption in high places of the government. This illegal leakage is costing the nation to bleed, thus the reason behind the need to cut subsidies for the rakyat.

Idris, the talk to Malaysiakini may sound intelligent, but it still makes a hollow sound. You have no gut to tackle the real and the only practical solution - fight corruption. Then only you earned the right to talk to us about tightening up our belts.

Stop rationalising the need to cut subsidies - the rakyat are not stupid enough to buy it.

Ichimaru Gin: If the fuel price increase, it will increase everything and as such, the cost of living will also increase. But at the same time, income remain at the same level.

And you expect people to change their lifestyle. How exactly do you want them to change? If you are asking them to cut their spending, then the economy will also go down because people spend less.

So tell me how exactly are we suppose to change our lifestyle.

Kgen: Yes, we have to live in the real world. The real world does not recognise bumiputera privileges and will punish economic distortion resulting from such an anti-competitive practice.

This is the main reason why wages have stagnated for the past 16 years. Malaysians are unable to pay real world prices for goods due to stagnant wages. Removing subsidies without fixing income level will burden the rakyat.

By the way, Idris should know that a high-income economy cannot be created by unleashing a flood of infrastructure projects. It will merely create high incomes for cronies. The only way to a high-income economy is better education, retention of skilled workers and removing anti-competitive practices.

It can take a decade with the right polices and there are no band-aid shortcuts.

For every RM1 billion that the government cuts in subsidy to the rakyat, it should also cut RM1 billion in subsidy to the IPPs (independent power producers). Can Idris Jala do that? If he cannot negotiate with the powerful IPPs, then go and beg them for mercy.

The above is a selection of comments posted by Malaysiakini

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