Guan Eng: Earlier tabling of Budget 2023 to benefit ruling party, not overcome economic issues

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Current government appears to be obsessed with political survival and holding general elections at the expense of taking concrete measures to resolve our economic ills.

DAP national chairman Lim Guan Eng today claimed that the earlier tabling of Budget 2023 will be used for political interests and serve as an election budget instead of benefitting the people.

In a media statement this afternoon, Lim said the move will completely negate the purpose of Budget 2023 as a fiscal and monetary policy statement for the upcoming year.

“Clearly the proposed Budget 2023 is an election budget to benefit the ruling parties’ selfish political interests, it is not a proper budget to help people overcome our country’s economic problems,” he said.

Using the price hike of Gardenia’s products and the price of petroleum as an example, Lim said that it is evidence that living expenses are still soaring.

“The price increases of Gardenia bread contradict the irresponsible claims made by the current government that they have brought soaring prices under control, especially food which rose by 6.2 percent in July 2022.

“Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said without the provision of subsidies, aid, and incentives Malaysia would have recorded an inflation rate of 11.4 percent and not 3.4 percent in July 2022.

“Mustapa said of the RM77.7 billion subsidy, the highest subsidy allocation of RM 38.3 billion was for petroleum to continue the policy initiated by Pakatan Harapan in 2019, of maintaining the RON95 price at RM2.05 and diesel at RM2.15 although the international market price had exceeded the price in this country.

“Clearly, financial measures and subsidies of RM77.7 billion alone undertaken by the government have not helped to arrest soaring prices, as shown by the rise in Gardenia bread,” he said.

He said the government should look at this holistically to slow down price hikes by addressing fiscal bottlenecks, severe labour shortages, depreciating ringgit, bureaucratic red-tape and barriers to economic growth faced by businesses.

“Addressing these problems will help to reduce costs and generate higher economic growth, where the higher volume would help businesses to further cut down costs.

“Unfortunately, the current government appears to be obsessed with political survival and holding general elections at the expense of taking concrete measures to resolve our economic ills.

“At a time when every resource, energy and focus should be on saving the country from our current economic crisis, the government is sacrificing good governance for political expediency.

“If early elections can help to resolve our economic problems, then elections should be called yearly,” the former finance minister said.

Yesterday, Gardenia Bakeries (KL) Sdn Bhd put out a statement saying that they have no choice but to increase its prices from between RM0.20 and RM0.70 starting September 1.

On Aug 26, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the tabling of Budget 2023 will be brought forward to October 7 instead of the initial date of October 28.

In a response to reporters querying why the date change, Ismail Sabri only responded that it was “normal” to do so.

Many have been speculating that the government’s announcement to move up the tabling of Budget 2023 is a clear sign that the 15th general election will be held soon. – MMO