Najib claims Budget 2022 will force govt to borrow more when future revenue uncertain

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Malaysia’s Budget 2022 with its whopping RM332.1 billion is susceptible to too many risks, Datuk Seri Najib Razak claimed in Parliament today.

He said the government will be forced to borrow even more to support its high expenditure plans at a time when revenue projections are still low.

The Pekan MP blamed the current situation on the decisions undertaken by the past two governments after the 14th general election in 2018.

The two biggest past government “mistakes”, according to Najib, were the abolishment of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and “half-baked” lockdown measures to curb Covid-19.

“The first, the major mistake of the previous government when it decided to abolish the GST, thereby increasing the government’s dependence on petroleum revenue while scaring off investors by claiming the country was already bankrupt and approving the sale of state-owned assets which yielded returns to the government but at the expense of long-term interests.

Bernama

“And thereafter, the enforcement of ‘lockdown’ and movement control orders, among the world’s longest, as a result of decisions that led to the implementation of ‘lockdown’ which is half-baked in containing Covid-19,” Najib said while debating the Supply Bill (Budget) 2022 in the Dewan Rakyat.

He said these have to be borne by the current administration under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“That is why the finances of the Malaysian government are in critical condition today,” he said.

Najib had earlier claimed the prolonged Covid-19 lockdowns were responsible for destroying the finances and livelihood of Malaysians.

While he did not name anyone directly, he attributed responsibility to a person he called “Bapa Lockdown Malaysia”, which translates to “Malaysia’s father of lockdowns”.

As for the GST, Najib said its abolishment has significantly impacted the country especially in terms of managing Covid-19 where tax revenue collected from those who benefited from the pandemic could be instead channeled to those severely affected.

He explained that the measures he mentioned ultimately forced the government of the day to borrow more to tackle the deficit in order to prepare its biggest Budget to date with RM332.1 billion allocated for 2022.

However, he said he was not on a fault-finding mission.

“Let me make it clear that this is a Budget 2022 debate session, not a session to find anyone’s fault.

“Instead, we need to acknowledge and be aware of the major mistakes that have taken place and the impact on the country and government finances,” he said.

Malaysia has seen three governments form in as many years. The first was led by the Pakatan Harapan coalition, which was elected to federal power in 2018.

This collapsed 22 months later after a sizeable number of MPs from PKR and Bersatu pulled out to form a pact with PAS and Umno and call their new alliance Perikatan Nasional (PN) in May last year.

The PN government under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin subsequently collapsed in August, leading to a motley Cabinet comprising Barisan Nasional and PN members under Ismail Sabri’s leadership. – MMO