HARDSHIP.....Giving Malaysians more income, and relieving them of economic hardship were among the highlights in Pakatan's shadow Budget 2013.
By : PATRICK LEE
KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Rakyat today revealed its shadow Budget 2013, with the goal of increasing Malaysians’ income and easing their financial burdens at the same time.
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim announced the budget which carried the slogan “Ekonomi Rakyat Negara Berkat” (People’s Economy, Blessed Country) in Parliament today.
The coalition budget focused on three areas:
-increasing disposable income and alleviating economic hardship;
-building an entrepreneurial class, and promoting constructive competition; and
-creating a “just society with dignity and pride”.
This year, Pakatan expected government revenue to be at RM197 billion, smaller than that of last year (RM220 billion).
The Pakatan budget has an expenditure tag of RM234 billion, comprising RM185 billion (operational expenses) and RM49 billion (development expenses).
The opposition also aimed to cut deficit further to 3.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), forecasting a 3.0% inflation rate and 5.2% economic growth.
It also forecast that Malaysia’s economy would grow to RM1.064 trillion by the end of 2013.
Like previous shadow budgets, the Pakatan budget focused on ending alleged corruption and doing away with economic mismanagement.
It also appeared to be focused on winning over various groups of Malaysians including civil servants and low-to-middle-income earners.
Focusing on the poor
The opposition is eyeing the 300,000 civil servants who earned less than RM1,100 a month.
Its proposal to increase welfare payment from RM300 to RM550 a month was also geared towards lifting 84,000 Malaysian families out of poverty.
The opposition was also confident that it would obtain a minimum household income of RM4,000 after five years of rule.
Speaking to reporters, Anwar said Barisan Nasional would never achieve its deficit target of 4.7% of the GDP.
He said that Pakatan’s 3.5% target was doable, adding that a deficit target could not be too radical lest it affects essential areas such as healthcare and rural development.
He added that the opposition’s 3.0% inflation rate was realistic, ridiculing BN’s 1.6% inflation claim.
The opposition leader also said that there was no need for race-based economic policies.
He, however, focused on the poor, many of whom he said were Malays. A poverty-focused policy, he added, would naturally target the Malays.
Among the economic policies the opposition revealed were:
-Creating a National Housing Board to come up with affordable housing projects, with 100,000 homes priced between RM130,000 and RM300,000, helped by a RM5 billion initial seed capital. Half of these homes would be built in the Klang Valley.
-Gradual implementation of a build-then-sell policy for houses, geared towards veering away from the possibility of abandoned housing projects.
-Cutting excise duties on all cars by 20%.
-A RM2 billion allocation to double the number of RapidKL buses from 1,400 to 3,000, and increase service coverage from 165 to 250 routes, and 980 to 1,500 residential areas. It would also focus more on Bus Rapid Transit systems.
-Setting aside RM6 billion to start phasing out the toll for selected highway concessions.
-A RM20 million allocation allowing for free public transport for the disabled.
-A universal RM1,100 minimum wage for both the public and private sectors.
-Increasing welfare payment from RM300 to RM550 a month.
-Increasing incomes and employment opportunities for Malaysians in rural areas, including smallholders in agricultural and rural-based economic activities, making it a “comprehensive” safety net mechanism. A one-off RM500 assistance to be disbursed by the Welfare Department for households affected by the drop in commodity prices.
-Gradually abolishing the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) after 100 days of Pakatan in power, and refocusing all government investments on Khazanah Nasional.
-An annual minimum RM2 billion dividend from Khazanah to the federal government.
-An Anti-Trust Act and an Anti-Trust Commission to break monopolies apart.
-Rationalisation of government investments, and the revamping of government-linked private equity fund manager Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas).
-Forming state-owned second-tier oil and gas companies for the oil-producing states. These states would benefit from financial investments in marginal fields through risk-sharing contracts.
-Increase oil royalty rates to 20%, bringing in an extra RM12.5 billion to Kelantan, Sabah, Sarawak and Terengganu.
-Starting the construction of a Pan Borneo Highway that would link Kuching and Kota Kinabalu with Sabah’s east coast.
-A RM500 million Small and Medium Industry (SMI) Automation Fund, with tax incentives and facilitation funds for SMIs.
-A RM500 million National Innovation Fund.
-A RM600 annual contribution known as Caruman Wanita Nasional, a national safety net for female homemakers.
-A combined police redeployment, and rationalisation of new intakes in future years. This would include upping the number of criminal investigation officers, foot patrols and various other means.
-RM754 million to increase all policemen’s salaries by 15%.