Budget 2015: Appoint a new Finance Minister and cut “Prime Ministerial slush funds”

Media statement by DAP National Political Education Director and MP for Kluang Liew Chin Tong on 17th January 2015

While I welcome the supposed presentation of a belated revision of Budget 2015, I know that the people, especially those from Corporate Malaysia, are now hoping to see the appointment of a new full-time Finance Minister.

The revised Budget 2015 should focus on cutting “Prime Ministerial slush funds” and not to target social expenditure.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah told the press that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would announce the revised 2015 Budget on Tuesday 20th January 2015.

I first spoke about the need for a revised Budget to take into consideration the impact of falling crude oil price on to the Budget when I was debating the Budget on 27th October 2014, at a time when crude oil price was way above USD 80 per barrel but fell short of the Government estimated oil revenue at USD 110 per barrel in 2014 and USD 105 per barrel in 2015.

I was then asking Prime Minister cum Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to present a revised Budget 2015 or at least present the Parliament with contingency plans if faced with three scenarios, namely, when crude oil price is at USD 80, USD 70 and USD 60 per barrel.

I was not expecting crude oil price to fall to the current level so quickly. One could argue that the price may rise again. Nevertheless the chances of further reduction in oil price are a very likely scenario that could not be ignored.

Hence, on Tuesday 20th January 2015, Najib should provide Malaysians with estimated scenarios of crude oil price at USD 40, USD 30 and USD 20 per barrel.

More importantly, if you talk to anyone fairly involved in the corporate world and the financial market, they would tell you that having a revised budget is no longer satisfactory. We need a new full-time finance minister with deep knowledge of the economy and sufficient powers to make informed and enlightened decision.

With a sharp reduction of revenue, cuts to the original budget is the only option. But what needs to be cut is the question.

To begin with, there shall be no cuts to education, health, welfare and other social expenditures.
What must first be cut is what I call the “Prime Ministerial slush funds” hidden mainly not only in the Prime Minister’s Department but also in the Finance Ministry.

While Budget 2015 has allocated only 18% or RM 50.5 billion (of the total of RM273.6 billion) for development, the Prime Minister’s Department has taken the lion’s share, 25 % of the total development budget or RM13 billion.

Some of the more outrageous “Prime Ministerial slush funds” in the Prime Minister’s Department are as followed:

1. (00102) Projek Kemiskinan Semenanjung/Sabah/Sarawak – RM160 million

2. (00104) Penyusunan Semula Masyarakat- RM750 million

3. (00108) Program Pembangunan – RM 1.1 billion

4. (93600) Projek Mesra Rakyat- RM 670 million

5. (97000) Dana Fasilitasi- RM 2.5 billion

6. (93000) Projek-projek Kecil- RM 300 million

7. (93500) Projek Khas- RM 1.6 billion

The above listed cost the taxpayers RM 7.08 billion, far more than the BR1M aide payments. These items are just tips of the iceberg and not inclusive of budget items in the Finance Ministry.

Those listed are particularly outrageous because it is so vaguely worded with scant information for any scrutiny. And, it is under Najib’s total control as he can literally give it away by a stroke of pen.

Any cuts must start from cutting the “Prime Ministerial slush funds”, as well as enforcing a change of lifestyle for Najib and his family, before anything else. And I reiterate, there shall not be cuts to education, health, welfare and other social expenditure.

Liew Chin Tong

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