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Selling the budget September 2, 2006

Posted by elizabethwong in Malaysia, Note2Self, Politics.

I loved the frontpage of New Straits Times today. Great idea to have adequate numbers of pleasant-looking people, well-compose, advertising how great the 2007 budget is. On par with those advertisements of starlets selling air-conditioners and kettles.

Putting those crucial elements and bold bullet-points aside, what can be said about the budget as a whole?

  1. It is a very positive budget. Blue skies and streamers ahead. A bit too positive. A journalist from a Japanese news agency raised his eyebrows and said, “What about the implementation?”
  2. The forecast of 6% growth for 2007 is troubling. Especially when there is a slow-down in the global economic growth rate of 4.9% to 4.7% in 2007. With geopolitical instabilities, high fuel prices, inflationary and interest rates pressures, how would one overcome all these to arrive at this figure?
  3. The claim that the budget deficit will be trimmed a further 0.2% is hard to believe.
  4. It is a ‘contractors’ budget’ or as a friend of mine cruelly called it the “Class-F- Umno-contractors-wet-dream”. Supply-driven again. And there’s an estimated RM 23 billion owed since 2000 to contractors, subcontractors and others in this industry.
  5. The 1% corporate tax cut will not stimulate the economy significantly. So we lose valuable income for a flat line.
  6. No prizes for guessing who will benefit for the line item on promotion of halal products in the global market.

I realised there’s a difference being in Parliament for the budget announcement and reading it in the print media the next day. In Parliament, one can hear the mutterings, see the shaking of heads and raised eyebrows. When it comes out in the papers, it’s post-packaged with charts, bullet points and nice graphics.


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