Wednesday, October 12, 2011

‘Gambler’ Najib will ‘break the bank’ | Free Malaysia Today

Gambler’ Najib will ‘break the bank’

Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz | October 12, 2011-FMT

The language Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak used when presenting the budget was the kind often used by gamblers.

COMMENT

I don’t understand why there is so much hype over the unveiling of a budget. It seems the politics is more important than the contents, ramifications and implications of a budget.

There is always this funfair atmosphere surrounding the presentation of our national budget.

Everyone thumps the table upon hearing this group will receive a one-off payment, that group another lump sum payment.

The loudest response of course came when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who is also Finance Minister, announced that the allowances of all Members of Parliament would also be revised.

A budget is a solemn document. It’s an account of how much this country earned as revenue, its sources and the proposals to commit that income.

It’s both a revelation and reflection of an exercise in financial management and discipline. Those are the things we must direct our attention to.

Biggest deficit in history

For example, everyone clapped when Najib, said: “This year’s budget is a lower proportion of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product).”

Yes, but isn’t our GDP this year bigger than last year’s?

Look at the absolute figure too. It’s still a deficit, suggesting perhaps financial indiscipline and, even worse, unjustifiable leakages.

Have the leakages been dealt with?

The budget is humongous – RM232.8 billion which is a lot of money, especially with a 9.4 percent rise in expenditure.

Despite the country’s deficit being reduced to 4.7 percent from 5.4 percent of GDP, the fact remains that in terms of absolute amount, it would be the biggest deficit in Malaysian history.

Hear this – “biggest deficit” in Malaysian history!

While our finance minister is confident that Malaysia will do a five to six percent growth rate, the rest of the world will grow from a negative figure to maybe three percent at the maximum.

So is the finance minister’s five to six percent growth rate realistic and achievable? Or is he pulling wool over our eyes?

Language of a gambler

I would usually refrain from giving a spontaneous response; I would rather prefer giving further analysis of the budget.

People can easily be overwhelmed by the feel-good nature of an election budget.

Did I say an election budget?

That’s what it is really despite the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s usual dour rejection of suggestions that it is. But nowadays not many people take the DPM seriously.

Nowadays people are easily charmed by the form by which the budget is presented.

Hence, people will comment on the language used by Najib, the way he presented it and so forth.

The language used is the language of a gambler.

No money, but let’s spend. Hence, his minders leaked information that this is “a break the bank” budget, a language more suited to the roulette table.

The house doesn’t have sufficient funds to cover the value of the chips on the table. Yet it lets people win to encourage more to play at the table.

Because in most cases the house eventually wins, so the PM’s minders reasoned, the law will also operate on Budget 2012.

So Najib must gamble and spend. He is creating the illusion that voters can win by getting money now, while the house is depleting itself. But in the end the house usually wins.

The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman and a FMT columnist.

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