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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Budget 2017: Deficit-causing Election Budget with Nothing for Sabah, Sarawak

KOTA KINABALU - “The 2017 National Budget tabled by PM Najib last week is nothing more than an election budget designed to buy the loyalty of voters at the expense of our future and other sectors of our economy including Sabah and Sarawak,” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR President cum Bingkor Assemblyman in commenting on the Budget 2017 announcement.

By increasing BR1M to RM1,200 for the e-Kasih RM3,000 and below category, the PM has given himself the option to call for elections in 2017 instead of waiting until June 2018.

The various goodies including the higher allowances and bonus for civil servants, higher limits for housing, motorcycle, smartphone and other loans, increased allowances and so-called incentives for youths and first-timers also appear to be election sweeteners.

These youths, civil servants and first-timers need to be aware that the higher limits and so-called incentives like increased motorcycle and smartphone loans are actually debt-causing and require repayments.  They are not like the RM2.6 billion and other donations where no repayment is required.

Even the higher BR1M payments and bonuses are debt-causing for the country and are not paid out of excess income of the nation.   They only increase the debt of the nation which is now more than RM800 billion. 

Malaysians need to understand that the country itself has no income and depends very much of exploitation of resources especially oil and gas from Sabah and Sarawak which amounts to more than RM70 billion annually and the taxes paid by Malaysian taxpayers especially GST which will see an increase to RM40 billion.

In the end, it is the Malaysian taxpayers that will have to bear and pay the national debt.  Almost all Malaysians are now taxpayers through the GST and when the country is unable to service the national debt, the GST will have to be increased from the current 6%.  

What the PM gives through the increased BR1M payments and leakages in the economy through corruption will eventually be collected back from the people through higher GST.

The development budget is biased and Peninsula-centric with almost nothing allocated for Sabah and Sarawak when at least 50% of development allocations should go to Sabah and Sarawak to catch up on their development.

Instead, RM55 billion is to be spent on the implementation of the new East Coast Rail Line project in phases and another RM100 billion allocated to restore the East Coast railway line along Gua Musang to Tumpat.

The PM is also cutting a crucial key to the nation’s future in education.   Closure of teachers’ training colleges is a wrong strategy to save money.   By closing these colleges, the government is failing not only the trainee teachers but failing future students who are the future of the nation.  The BR1M payments could have been reduced or stopped for 2017 to prevent the closure of teachers training colleges in Sabah and elsewhere.

The federal government is forgetting that providing education is a social responsibility for every government in the world.   In Germany, the government provides free education up to university-level.  In Malaysia, students are burdened with PTPTN loans and before they graduate.  Before they start earning, they are already burdened with heavy loans.

Sabahans and Sarawakians should wake up and see that Budget 2017 is ignoring the importance of Sabah and Sarawak and not treating them as equal partners in Malaysia.   If 2017 is election year, they should re-assess their support of the Umno/BN federal government and know who to vote for in the elections.  

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