A RM30 billion hole that wasn’t – Finance Minister and the Treasury should be censured

Finance Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak and the Treasury should be censured for misleading the Parliament with its shoddy preparation of a budget document that shows a RM 30 billion hole that wasn’t, as well as an attempt to hide a RM 2 billion figure from the public.

On page 41 of Anggaran Perbelanjaan Persekutuan 2011 (http://www.treasury.gov.my/pdf/bajet/maklumat_bajet_kerajaan/2011/anggaran_perbelanjaan2011.pdf) the Peruntukan Asal Tahun 2010 (original allocation) column shows that the total budget allocated for 2010 was RM 221 billion (RM221, 585, 772,800) which includes an operating budget of RM 168 billion (RM168, 366, 115, 800).

The Anggaran Perbelanjaan Persekutuan 2010 (http://www.treasury.gov.my/pdf/bajet/maklumat_bajet_kerajaan/2010/cadangan_anggaran.pdf) allocated a total of RM 191 billion (RM 191, 498, 805, 000) which includes an operating budget of RM 138 billion (RM 138, 279, 148, 000).
If these figures are correct, this would mean there exists a RM 30 billion hole and a 16 percent overspend.

Scrutinising each line I have found that the figures in the 2011 document are not accurate. There was no change in the original allocation amount, although according to the Economic Report 2010/2011, the 2010 budget was 7 percent overspent and now stands at RM 205 billion, as opposed to the original RM 191 billion.

Anggaran Perbelanjaan Persekutuan is the actual budget document to be approved by the Parliament, legally binding, as opposed to the Finance Minister’s budget speech in Parliament, which is essentially an exercise in public relations.

The Treasury must own up to the unacceptable, albeit technical, mistake, failing which the entire budgetary process in Parliament is rendered meaningless. The Finance Minister must apologise to the Parliament and request an amendment to the document.
The Finance Minister should also apologise to the Parliament for his ostrich-like act to hide a RM 2 billion figure from the public in his budget speech to the Parliament on Friday 15th October 2010.

The Finance Minister announced in the Parliament (paragraph 113) that the total allocation for Budget 2011 is RM212 billion, which, according to him, is 2.8% higher than the allocation for 2010.

Both figures are wrong!

First, for all preceding years before this budget, the allocation for “simpanan luar jangka” (emergency reserve) is considered part of the global figure. For 2011, RM 2 billion is allocated for that purpose which the Finance Minister is attempting to hide from the public. The actual total is RM 213,987,217, 000 or RM 214 billion.

Second, RM 214 billion is a huge increase from the RM 191 billion originally allocated for 2010. It is a 12 percent increase.
For the sake of preserving the integrity of the budget processes and the sanctity of the Parliament, I call on the Finance Minister and the Treasury to correct their mistakes.

Liew Chin Tong

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