Contractors, tycoons celebrating record budget for development, says MP

PKR’s Wong Chen slams higher development expenditure at a cost to operating expenditure under Budget 2023.

PETALING JAYA: The RM94 billion development expenditure will see government contractors and tycoons “celebrating”, says an opposition MP.

Subang MP Wong Chen said he also expects these groups to be major contributors to the coffers of political parties ahead of the next general election (GE15).

He added that the higher expenditure this year was “obviously a case of election fever spending”.

“I am sure that many of these tycoons and contractors will be opening their cheque books to make political donations soon for GE15,” he said.

Wong added that the RM369 billion budget tabled today was the “biggest ever” in Malaysian history but it was also funded by what he claimed to be the largest development debt of RM97 billion which he deemed as unsustainable.

“This has gone through the roof! The government intends to borrow RM97 billion to pay for this highest ever development expenditure.”

He also said the government was reducing operating expenditure for 2023 by about RM12 billion compared with 2022.

With the reduction, he said Putrajaya must clarify why subsidies were being actively cut for 2023.

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, Wong claimed the government intended to cut subsidies and social assistance in 2023 to RM42 billion from RM58 billion this year.

He said, this was a reduction of RM16.9 billion, which constitutes a 29% drop from the allocation this year.

Where’s the money to buy new arms, says expertemail sharing button

The 2023 budget has allocated RM485 million to repair ships for Malaysia’s coastguard, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The RM17.4 billion budget allocation for the defence ministry is hardly enough to acquire new military equipment deemed crucial in the challenging geopolitical situation in Southeast Asia, says a defence expert.

Salawati Mat Basir, a lecturer at the National Defence Education Centre, said the allocation was only sufficient to maintain the existing equipment.

The 2023 budget tabled today provides RM18.3 billion for the home ministry and RM17.4 billion for the defence ministry, of which RM4 billion would be for the purchase and maintenance of assets.

Former deputy defence minister Liew Chin Tong said the overall figure for the ministry is acceptable but he wants to see the ministry outline how the RM4 billion would be utilised.

“We would like to see a pledge from the government to ensure all defence spending is done with the highest adherence to integrity,” he said.

However, he commended the 2023 budget for allocating funds of RM485 million to repair ships for Malaysia’s coastguard, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

But he expressed disappointment with the lack of fresh ideas to help the military veterans.

The Malaysian Armed Forces Veterans’ Association’s president Sharuddin Omar, also vented his disappointment with the lack of allocations for veterans, as well as the announcement of a discount on public transport.

The 21,000 army and police pensioners are to be provided a 50% discount on public transport in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Pahang, and Penang on transport services run by Prasarana.

“We have 300,000 army veterans in the country, less than 10% of them will be able to enjoy that privilege,” he said.

He was disappointed with the lack of aid for ex-servicemen who left before the pension age. While retirees get RM350 in financial aid, there’s no such assistance for non-retired veterans.

“After this, I want to find out why the government was not responsive to our pleas,” he said.

The police veterans’ welfare association’s president Hussin Awang Ngah also couldn’t hide his frustration with the lack of incentives for the veterans.

“It’s so disappointing. It’s as if the government doesn’t appreciate the veterans. They should have thought of something better than giving the discount for public transport,” he said.  FMT

Bouquets and brickbats for budget from netizens

Some netizens claimed the budget was more for civil servants than those in the private sector.

PETALING JAYA: Some netizens have questioned the rationale for certain allocations under Budget 2023 while others have chosen to see the good that it brings.

Facebook user Zainal Aziz expressed dissatisfaction, claiming that the allocations were mainly focused on civil servants.

Another netizen, Facebook user Tok Puteh, also claimed there was nothing in the budget for Malaysians who are working in the private sector.

Among the allocations for the civil service announced by finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz are a RM100 increment for all civil servants from Grade 11 to Grade 56, a RM350 one-off aid for a million retired civil servants, and an increase in Aidilfitri aid for civil servants to RM600.

Meanwhile, Twitter user @FranciscoPier1 claimed the budget was being used by the Barisan Nasional-led government to fish for votes in the run up towards the 15th general election.

“Big budget, but does it mean more debt? Where and who pays the bill down the line? Tax breaks are good, but after elections, will the tax rate jump? Inflated military budget. At whose expense and whose benefit?” he said in a post.

Another Facebook user, M Ekamotsu San, said the budget only contained sweet promises.

“This is just sweet talk, the government will not deliver. Don’t get too excited, we’ve been lied to many times before,” they said.

However, some netizens preferred to view it positively.

Facebook user Siti Nurihan Salim said the RM150 education aid for all students, regardless of their parents’ incomes, was good.

One Twitter user said the RM1.8 billion allocation to purchase new equipment for hospitals and clinics was also praiseworthy.

“Alhamdulillah, more medical equipment for public hospitals and their staff. I’ve had to do a heart MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan at a private hospital due to lack of equipment,” the Twitter user said.

Another Twitter user, Naim, welcomed the government’s RM350 million allocation for the Orang Asli community, saying it was timely.  FMT