Monday, October 17, 2011

To be in reality or clouded in a shadow of doubt?



1. It is within the public knowledge that the National Budget for year 2012 was tabled by Datuk Seri (DS) Mohd Najib in the Parliament on 5-10-2011. The tabling of the said budget had inevitably pulled public interests and this was evident by noticing in the following day, newspapers reporting the said budget were sold like hot cakes. Perhaps this is an accepted norm in Malaysia as the public are keenly interested to know what the Government may have to offer to the public in 2012’s socio economic blueprint.

2. It is also within the public knowledge that for the first time the Opposition Front /Pakatan Rakyat (PR) collectively released their own version of the Budget, 3 days prior to the tabling of the National Budget (NB). PR called it “the Shadow Budget” (SB) and the main intention for the release was to show that PR could do things differently, if not better, for socio economic sustainability and growth of this nation.

3. A friend asked whether this SB can be considered in the Parliament or might pose any impact to the budget tabled by the Government. My direct answer is “No”! A budget is actually a Supply Bill while the SB is merely a manifesto or propaganda statement. Parliament will only consider, deliberate, debate and approve the Bill which is tabled in its house and will not at any time consider, deliberate, debate and approve a document that is merely a party’s manifesto. When a Bill is approved by both Houses of Parliament, it becomes an Act. Through this Act the Government shall be empowered and authorized to spend the monies from the Consolidated Fund in accordance to what has been approved.

4. In other words, the SB neither carries any weight nor any merit for Parliament’s consideration unless it is introduced as a private Bill. History, however, indicates that all private Bills ever introduced in Parliament had failed to get necessary support for consideration and deliberation. Taking into consideration the number of seats that PR now has in Parliament, introducing a private Bill is definitely not a good idea.

5. The practice of making a Shadow Budget (SB) is common in countries like the US and the Great Britain. Through this shadow budget the opposition party intends to show to the public how they would spent the public money if they are the Government. As earlier said, the SB is merely a manifesto or a propaganda statement. Therefore it is permissible to promise “the sky and the stars” in the SB because the opposition knows that they would not have to fulfill the promises or make good of such promises now. On the contrary, the Government has to make good of all its promises once the proposed Bill is approved. So now, we would be able to differentiate clearly which one is real and which one is fictitious.

6. So my dear friends, I believe I can say the following with much confidence :-

6.1. RM 500 a month to all teachers for teaching allowance as stated in SB is fictitious while a new scheme with time based promotion is real. Annual increment between RM80 to RM 320 for all civil servants is real.

6.2. RM 1000 as yearly bonus for government pensioners as stated in SB is fictitious while pension adjustment and 2% yearly increment on pension received as proposed in NB is real.

6.3. RM 1000 a month for childcare allowance for homemakers (suri rumah) as stated in SB is fictitious while the one off assistance of RM 500 to households with monthly income RM3000 or less, schooling assistance of RM 100 a month for each child (year 1 to Form 5) and book voucher to all Malaysian students studying in Higher Learning Institution are real.

6.4. The payout for the balance of one month bonus given to civil servants with the minimum of RM 500 as proposed by DS Mohd Najib is real.

These are some of the examples to demonstrate which one is real and which one is fictitious

7. Having said the above, I shall now rest my case on the issue whether the SB is worth considering or not. A piece of advice - let us all Malaysians set our feet firmly on the ground of reality rather than standing miserably in the shadow of doubt.

8. Nevertheless before I leave, I wonder why in the SB is void of any proposal on Malay/Bumiputera agenda unlike in the NB. Malay/Bumiputera represents 60% of Malaysia’s population. Would not it be wise to provide something for this group of people or the PR just do not care?

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