PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli said the much-boasted estimation by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak that the Malaysian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will surpass the one trillion ringgit milestone in 2013 is merely a “mathematics trick”.

The accountant-turned-politician told a forum last night that the difference in the nominal GDP figure for 2013 as compared to last year’s was due to the use of a different base year, resulting in vastly differing figures.

NONEThe nominal value of the 2013 GDP was measured using the constant prices of 2005, while the 2012 GDP was measured in the constant prices of 2000, he explained.

“When we revise our base year from 2000 to 2005, the nominal 2013 GDP will increase by RM60 billion. If we still use 2000 as base year, the figure would be about RM980 billion,” Rafizi (right) explained.

The revision of base year not only produced a higher nominal GDP, but also portrayed a lower deficit-to-GDP ratio of 4.0 percent because the estimated RM40 billion deficit in 2013 is a constant value regardless of base year, he claimed.

“If we take 2000 as base year, the deficit-to-GDP ratio would be higher than 4.0 percent, about 4.4 percent.”

Met after the forum, Rafizi elaborated to Malaysiakini that although there is no rule of the thumb on how often the base year should be revised, the revision in other countries is often done by an independent panel such as the budget committee in US.

NONE“The question is why is Najib doing it now? It is certainly conspicuous,” he remarked.

The forum organised by Pakatan also featured political researcher Ong Kian Ming, who has just joined DAP, and PAS’ economist Dzulkefly Ahmad as speakers.

Rafizi also rebutted Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar's earlier argument that Pakatan would not be able to fund its RM206.5 billion election promises by plugging leakages and eradicating corruption.

The Rembau MP had argued that out of the total RM232.8 billion budgeted for 2012, RM148.5 billion or 63.8 percent was earmarked for items which are fixed charges or payments that cannot be changed, leaving only RM84.3 billion of procurement-related spending which is exposed to leakages and corruption.

"If you get 10 percent savings from procurement, that would be just RM8.43 billion extra - hardly enough to pay for the opposition's election promises," he contended.

Rafizi to KJ: Go back to Oxford

However, Rafizi last night displayed a list of items amounting to RM206.4 billion which he claimed are exposed to corruption and leakages including service and supply (RM33.7 billion), subsidy (RM37.6 billion), grants for government bodies excluding salary (RM7 billion), development expenditure (RM50 billion), estimated expenditures by government-linked companies and Petronas (RM40 billion) and the item “others” (RM14.8 billion) listed in the budget.

NONEHe revealed that the Selangor state government has managed to cut down the cost of its works contracts by 24 percent lower than the estimation by the Works Ministry from January to September this year through open tender.

If the same magnitude of saving is applied to the RM206.4 billion expenditures listed by him, it would translate to RM49.5 billion of annual saving, Rafizi said.

He also corrected Khairy's figure by showing the annual expenditures needed by Pakatan to fulfill its election promises is RM39.9 billion and not RM206.5 billion because some of the policies such as free education and PTPTN write-off will be implemented over the period of several years.

“Khairy (above) needs to go back to Oxford to learn mathematics again,” he joked.

Rafizi's view was shared by Ong, who pointed out that the BN federal government has lost considerable revenue by selling cheap lands and giving tax break to its cronies.

NONEHe showed the example of the sale of state land, which is believed to be located within the proposed Tun Razak Exchange region, to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) at the price of RM194 million.

However 1MDB's financial report, according to Ong (right), states that the land is valued at RM1.02 billion, indicating a loss of RM827 million government revenue.

Ong asserted that BN federal government has failed to reform the current economic structures because it has too many sacred cows, such as 1MDB, that cannot be slain.

Should Pakatan come to power, these cronies and rent seekers would be wiped out, he added.