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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Don't force GST on the people to fund your Maharaja lifestyle - Anwar warns Najib
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:39
Written by Malaysia Chronicle
UPDATED VIDEO INSERTED Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim warned Prime Minister Najib Razak not to introduce a new Goods and Service Tax (GST) to reduce the budgetary deficit after the latter announced the formation of a special committee to look into ways to reduce the shortfall - at a record high - to 3% bt 2015.
"Unfortunately, Dato Seri Najib continues to govern behind a veil of secrecy," Anwar told a press conference on Wednesday.
"The BN government must not drag the public to cover for its economic incompetence and policy shortfalls. Any attempts to introduce a new GST albeit in stages to reduce the deficit will be resisted in the same force that the people had resisted electoral fraud."
Anwar was referring to the Black 505 rallies, a people's movement spearheaded by the Pakatan Rakyat to protest vote rigging and fraud in the May 5 general election. The hugely successful rallies have drawn more than half a million Malaysians to assemble to demand the resignation of the Election Commission leadership.
Just PM's Office alone - RM4 BILLION a year?
The 64-year-old Anwar also chided Najib for his 'free-spending' ways, challenging the latter, who is also the Finance Minister, to refute the Opposition's estimate that just the prime minister's office alone spent at least RM4 billion a year on "huge entourages and thousands of personnel".
"The minister concerned has alluded to the fact that they need RM27 billion in extra revenue or the deficit problem will remain. Our position differs completely with the BN's. Our position is consistent in that you must start with transparent policies, which means you save billions, stop excessive spending, reduce the exorbitant excessive expenditure of the Prime Minister's Office, the huge entourage, thousands of personnel and that would already be in the billions," said Anwar.
"In fact, our initial estimate is that at least RM4bil alone (in budget allocation) is for the Prime Minister's Maharaja-type of expenditure. And I would challenge him to refute this, which is unprecedented throughout all my experience as Finance Minister and the history of this country."
PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution was also present at the press conference.
Hardship to the people as wage growth has been weak
According to Anwar, GST could only be introduced if the average level of income of "common Malaysians" have risen significantly over a period of 5 years, otherwise it would bring hardship to the working classes. He pointed to the fact that the current wage reality in Malaysia was that only a "low 2.6% average wage growth" had been achieved between 2000 and 2010.
"In 10 years, the wage increase was only 2.6%. Given that scenario, it is unacceptable to imagine the government would introduce additional taxes, GST for example. So what we are saying is stop the wastage first. We are talking about RM20 to 30 billion of commissions and bribery, extraneous spending. Look at the Auditor-General's report, this must be addressed first.
"Dato Seri Najib does not have the full legitimacy in terms of popular votes, and he has not been able to deliver the most basic of his economic promises since being sworn in recently. That fact that his administration struggles to reduce car prices as promised in his manifesto exemplified he incompetence and hopelessness of his administration."
Anwar also took Najib to task for failing to keep pre-election promises of cheaper cars and affordable homes. He warned that the Pakatan Rakyat would be monitoring runaway property prices closely and would expect to see prices come down by at least 10%.
"We shall track the BN government's performance on public housing closely and will consider it a failure if he cannot bring down the average prices of mid-range housing by at least 10% in the next one year," said Anwar.