Budget plugs holes instead of planning for future, says Sabah Umno Youth

(FMT) – The 2020 Budget is not geared towards spurring the people’s economic development, Sabah Umno Youth information chief Naem Moktar said.

He said it was clear that the budget is more about plugging the holes instead of planning for the future.

“It is not objective and contributes little towards making sure the people’s buying power increases,” he said.

For example, he said the Graduates@Work initiative aims to minimise unemployment by giving graduates RM500 incentives to be credited into their EPF accounts and RM300 to employers.

The funds, said Naem, are too subjective since the probability that job opportunities exist is unclear because of the current weak growth of the micro-economic sector.

Other than that, Naem said he failed to see how the 2020 Budget is capable of reducing the nation’s dependency on foreign workers.

“It seems that development funds have put more emphasis on digital entrepreneurship. Little has been done in addressing the problem of foreign workers or how to reduce our dependence on them.”

He noticed that the budget also put emphasis on women and graduates in the same breath with the country’s dependency on foreign workers.

“I wonder if it means the government is expecting our graduates and women workers to replace these foreign workers in the various industries, such as manufacturing, construction and others?”

Other than rhetoric, Naem said Sabah Umno Youth views the budget as nothing more than an amateurish attempt to appease the people without being objective.

He believed Malaysian youths will continue to be bogged down by a high rate of unemployment. At the same time, they will be forced to face an economic crisis due to the weak economic growth, giving rise to limited buying power by the people.

He said it was frightening to realise that 17.7% of the budget involves loans.

“It should raise the question as to how many more of the country’s assets will be sold off by the federal government next year.”

Disappointing, says Kitingan

Meanwhile, Sabah opposition leader and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan described the 2020 Budget as “very disappointing”, especially with regards to the special grant for Sabah.

“It is supposed to be 40% of the net revenue payment, but can you imagine the insignificance of the RM53.4 million token payment when compared to what it should be?

“The federation is collecting more than RM60 billion a year from Sabah, which means 40% of that should be around RM24 billion,” he said.

The Keningau MP scoffed at Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s contention that the increase in the special grant amount demonstrates that the fact that the federal government is prioritising the needs of Sabah and Sarawak.

Kitingan said the RM26.7 million had been paid to Sabah for the past 46 years and had never been reviewed once even though the Federal Constitution requires a review every five years.

“Now, the federal government has unilaterally decided to double the figure, decided some 46 years ago, without bothering to conduct a financial review with the state government.

“This amount of RM53.4 million therefore does not satisfy what is in Article 112D of the Federal Constitution,” he said.