Pakatan reforms to cost only RM19 billion, says Anwar

(The Malaysian Insider) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim challenged Datuk Seri Najib Razak today to a debate, after the prime minister said yesterday that the Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 100 day programme would bankrupt the country.

The opposition leader told a press conference here that PR’s agenda unveiled at the coalition’s second convention last month would only cost RM19.2 billion, lower than RM51 billion, which Anwar claimed was “stolen from the national economy to keep the cronies afloat.”

“I am suggesting a public debate with the government so these figures could be presented to the public, so the people may decide based on the figures and not lies,” said Anwar.

“It is a bit presumptuous for the prime minister to claim that Pakatan’s 100-day reform programme will bankrupt the country since it is Umno BN-led government that had borrowed excessively each year,” he added.

Yesterday, Najib described the promises as populist and irresponsible. He also claimed that the policy ignored the country’s financial limitations.

Among the reforms promised by the PR coalition, within the first 100 days of taking over Putrajaya, is to increase the incentives for teachers by RM500 a month.

PR also promised to repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA), abolishing the toll system by instructing Khazanah Berhad, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and other government bodies to take over highway assets from the concessionaires, as well as offering free wireless Internet access to those in urban and semi-urban areas.

Elaborating the cost of PR’s promises, Anwar said the special allowances for teachers and education officers would only cost the country RM3.2 billion annually, while maintaining the fuel and LPG subsidy would cost RM8 billion per year.

On the proposal to take over the toll system, Anwar said it would cost an additional RM8 billion to acquire the minority shareholders.

“The restructuring of the toll system under PLUS is expected to cost RM23 billion, based on the current offer made by Khazanah and EPF. The additional cost to acquire minority shareholders is approximately RM8 billion,” said Anwar.

“The additional cost required to fund Pakatan’s 100-day programme is only RM19.2 billion, an amount equivalent to the existing corporate subsidies fed to IPPs each year. This is a pittance compared to the RM51 billion stolen from our national economy to keep the cronies afloat and fat,” he added.