June 17, 2010
Filed under: Alternatives,Corruption,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:02 AM
By Malaysian Insider
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim slammed the Najib administration for charting “ambitious” goals in the TenthMalaysia Plan (10MP), pointing out similar approaches in the plan had failed in the previous two development plans.
The Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader told the House that before these “grandiose” goals were celebrated, it was imperative for the government to revisit the failures of both the Eighth and Ninth Malaysia plans.
“Comparisons should however be made first so that we can have an honest assessment of the situation. What do all these grandiose announcements and presentation of policies in the House mean if previous targets were not even met?” Anwar said when debating the 10MP tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on June 10.
The parliamentary Opposition Leader, who was the first to take the floor in debating the 10MP, said that under the Eighth MP (8MP), the country had only achieved a growth rate of 4.7 per cent despite its planned target of 7.5 per cent between the years 2001 and 2005.
“The situation was more serious in the Ninth MP (9MP). Although the government demanded payment from Petronas amounting to RM235.6 billion between 2006 and 2009, the economy only grew an average of 4.2 per cent annually while the target was 6 per cent,” he said.
He further claimed that of the RM431 billion in total paid by Petronas to the government, 55 per cent had been spent in three years without affecting the growth of the economy.
“With such a large amount paid by Petronas to the government, one would hope the country’s public debt level would be maintained at a controllable level. In other countries, would not the reliance on debt be reduced if a government-linked company contributes up to 45 per cent of the government’s annual revenue?” he said.
Anwar said that Pemandu figures and information from the 10MP acknowledge the fact that the national debt level stood at ratio of 53.3 per cent to the country’s GDP as at the end of 2009.
He expressed doubt that that the government would be successful in achieving a budget deficit target of 2.8 per cent of GDP by 2015 as stipulated in the plan.
“Not only is the approach outlined in the plan the same as the failed ones in 8MP and 9MP, the government led by the prime minister had also in the past one year failed to show strong political will towards reducing the deficit,” he said.
Anwar pointed out that in the 8MP, the government had failed to achieve a balanced budget as it had promised to at the end of the plan’s five-year period.
“Then, when announcing the 9MP, the government once again promised to reduce the budget deficit by controlling its expenditure. It aimed to decrease the deficit to 3.4 per cent of the GDP by 2010 although it had not even achieved its 8MP target.
“We seriously need to look at the government’s indifferent attitude in this issue and how despite having failed twice in a row, it has once again presented a very ambitious budget deficit reduction target in the 10MP,” he said.
Anwar went further to chastise the Barisan Nasional government for being ambitious in attempting to reduce the deficit when it was, in fact, “afraid of its own shadows”.
This, he claimed, was expounded by the government’s practice of “flip-flopping” on policies initially undertaken to reduce the deficit.
“Initially, the government voiced its intention to bring back the Real Property Gains Tax but barely two months after its announcement in the 2010 Budget, the prime minister repealed a large part of the tax coverage.
“Then the government spent money to implement the Goods and Services Tax, which should have been debated in the previous parliamentary session. Finally, however, the people were blamed for being ignorant when the government decided to postpone its decision,” said Anwar.
The “flip-flopping”, noted Anwar, showed that the government did not have the political commitment and accountability to reduce the budget deficit.
“This has affected investor confidence and resulted in a lagging economic performance,” he said.
Anwar then moved to point out that Malaysia’s failure to achieve “not one single target” in the previous development plans had caused it to lag behind its neighbours, which had seen more rapid and robust economic growth.
“Since two years ago, Indonesia surpassed us in all aspects. In terms of GDP growth — Indonesia recorded a growth of 6 per cent in 2008 and 4.6 per cent in 2009.
“In terms of foreign investment, we only received RM46 billion in 2008 and RM22 billion last year compared to Indonesia which received RM50.6 billion in 2008 and RM37.9 billion in 2009,” he said.
If this continued, claimed Anwar, Malaysia’s competitiveness in the global economy would be drastically affected.
He noted that Malaysia’s position in the Global Competitiveness Index had been declining every year.
“In the list in 2007, we ranked 19 and then we remained ranked 21 in the next two years. In the present list, we declined again down the ladder to 24,” he said.
Anwar said the country needed to be bold and sincere in its approaches to escape from the economic impasse.
“Without bold economic policies and sincerity, the government will continue to hide behind its slogans of achieving a high-income economy while workers’ wages only rise to the average level of inflation, the prices of essential goods will continue to rise and finally, the BN government will leave a huge legacy of debt for coming generations,” he said.