Wednesday 3 October 2012

Polls in December? - Selena Tay

This is because Najib's trump card is the budget goodies and if the polls are held this year, the voters will be tempted to vote for BN in order to obtain the goodies next year.

Now that the Budget 2013 has already been tabled, political analysts are again speculating on the date of the 13th general election. Many are of the view that the polls will be held only after February.

But this columnist thinks it can still be held this year, the latest by Dec 15 (after the Umno general assembly which ends on Dec 1).

This is because Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s trump card is the budget goodies and if the polls are held this year, the voters will be tempted to vote for Barisan Nasional in order to obtain the goodies next year.

After the goodies are distributed, he will have no more weapon or trump card. Therefore to maximise the effect of the feel-good factor, he holds on to the goodies now to be used as a carrot.

According to the old folks of the Chinese community, perhaps the devil has gotten hold of the polls date and that is why it is difficult for everyone in BN to get it back.

So much for the devil and the date.

With regard to the budget presentation last week, what was uncalled for was Najib’s attack on Pakatan Rakyat which lasted close to 20 minutes. That was really in bad taste and very unbecoming of someone who aspires to be a great statesman. And he has the gumption to talk about moderation!

Commenting on this, PAS Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad opined that “Najib must be having his mind preoccupied with Pakatan 24/7 and that must be the reason why he could not resist taking a swipe at Pakatan during the budget presentation”.

Auditor-General’s Report

However, what is also just as important as the budget is the Auditor-General’s Report which, according to parliamentary procedure, should be tabled on the same day as the budget itself. Instead this vital report is late again as was last year.

The Pakatan MPs need to see the Auditor-General’s Report so that they can evaluate the government’s spending habits. If a certain ministry has overspent, then it is pointless to allocate another vast sum to this particular ministry again.

A point to note is that the incumbent BN federal government has been running a budget deficit since 1998 and is in the habit of requesting for a Supplementary Budget. This means that additional allocation is requested as the budget’s allocation is insufficient to meet the demands of the ministries.

The whole thing shows that the government is not spending in a prudent manner.

Although it is good to dole out goodies to the rakyat, what the government is doing is akin to giving painkillers to the sick person and not curing the disease. In short, it is not solving the problem. It is only implementing a stop-gap measure to relieve the pain.

Back to the Auditor-General’s Report. Without this report, Pakatan MPs will find it difficult to debate the budget in an effective manner because they are in the dark on whether the government has spent last year’s allocation prudently and wisely as comparisons need to be made between the budget and the Audit-General’s Report.

A good example is the National Feedlot Corporation project wherein RM250 million was allocated but the results were measly. This matter was revealed in the Audit-General’s Report.

Of course, there are many other examples of procurements or purchases made at jacked-up prices and cost overruns in this and that.

Meanwhile, the national debt has increased to RM502 billion. Plus off-the-record contingent liabilities, the sum will definitely be much higher but with increased spending, the national debt percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could still be below 55%! A miracle indeed!

GST coming soon

One thing for sure is that the government needs to recover what it has given out to the rakyat. Based on this premise, it is a given that GST (goods and services tax) will be imposed after BN wins the 13th general election.

At most, we the ordinary citizens have until the end of March to enjoy the “good life”. After that, subsidies will be reduced and the austerity drive would then kick in with the price of petrol and other goods going up in leaps and bounds as the GST eats into our income.

Malaysians would do well to recall that after the polls in March 2008, the petrol price sky-rocketed in June of the same year. The prices of foodstuffs especially tin food have never come down again although the petrol price was later reduced in tandem with the global price. So that is an indication of things to come after the 13th general election if BN wins again.

Therefore right now in order to obtain our support and votes, the government peddles to us the vision of the “good life” in Utopia to lull us into thinking that everything will be fine and the situation just gets better for all of us.

Knowing that many Malaysians are gullible voters, it seems like we have to brace ourselves for the Grecian impact to hit our shores soon if the polls are held during the school holidays in March, which is about five months away. The countdown begins now. Onward to austerity!

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