The Worst Budget Ever

The 2017 Budget is the worst ever budget of the country and also the worst of all Budgets for Sarawak. For the sake of the country and also for Sarawak, the 25 Sarawak BN MPs must vote against the Budget.

There is no point for the Sarawak BN to complain about the neglect of Sarawak in the annual budgets and yet continue to support the Budgets in the Parliament. That is hypocrisy of the highest degree and also deceit against the people of Sarawak.

The 2016/17 Economic Report tabled in Parliament today together with the 2017 Budget reveals that the Government’s actual revenue collected in 2016 fall far short of its initial estimates.

In 2016 Budget initially tabled by Najib in October, 2015, the estimates revenue of the Government was RM225.7 billion. This estimates revenue was reviewed downward to RM212.6 billion. This is a downward revision of RM13.1 billion, a 5.8% drop from its initial estimates.

Despite this downward economic trend, the Government is still making an estimate of 3.4% increase in 2017 revenue. This is a most unrealistic and self-deceiving estimates.

The lower than expected revenue collection in 2016 also explains the phenomena that a lot of the promised allocation and announcements by the Government in 2016 were not followed up with actual fund being allocated and disbursed, eg. the promised allocation for Chinese schools, the unreasonable delay in the disbursement of fund for government projects announced, the lack of maintenance of the facilities in hospitals, the non-starter of the Sarawak General Hospital multi-storey carpark projects, the delay in Pan Borneo Highway projects, etc.

In short, the National coffer is running dry and the Government is finding it difficult to get the money to implement the projects that it announced or promised.

The 2017 Budget has also set the record-low percentage in Development Fund, with 81.7% of the total expenditure of RM262.8 billion going to Operating Expenditure and only 18.3% for Development Expenditure.

There is complete silence on the fight against corruption in Najib’s Budget speech and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) gets a massive 14% cut in its budget in year 2017, from the 2016 budget allocation of RM251.7 million to RM216.2 million in year 2017. Is Najib too ashamed to talk about fighting corruption? Or is he simply ignoring the fight against corruption in the country?

In light of the recent Sabah Water Gate corruption which revealed that out of a total RM3.3 billion allocation, the leakage could be as high as RM2 billion (60%), the ultimate issue in our Budget is no longer “how much is the allocation”, but rather “how the allocation is to be used?”

So long as the corruption and leakage problems are not addressed, there is no point talking about billions of allocation when as high as 60% of such allocation goes into the private pockets of the corrupt officers and politicians. Yet, Najib completely ignores these problems in his budget speech.

As for Sarawak, if we were to compare the Federal Budgets for the last three years, there is a conspicuous omission of Sarawak in the 2017 Budget address. It is as if now that Sarawak Elections are over, “Sarawak” no longer warrants the emphasis in the Budget.

Despite all the Adenan’s talk about “Whatever they (West Malaysia) have, we (Sarawak) also want”, it is not happening with the Barisan Nasional Government. It has not happened for the past 53 years and it is still not happening in the 2017 Budget.

Therefore, if Adenan and the 25 Sarawak BN MPs is serious about defending and fighting for Sarawak’s interest, they should vote against the 2017 Budget.

Chong Chieng Jen
MP for Bandar Kuching / ADUN for Kota Sentosa
DAP Sarawak Chairman