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Sakmongkol ak 47

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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Is Parliament playing with our money?

Political leaders and some businessmen make light of the incoming economic crisis. In USA some have termed it mini depression. Here, our ministers, finance 1 and 2 and others somewhat connected to business and economy in Malaysia, are singing lullabies to us.

Perhaps we have been conditioned into thinking that this is a thing that will come to pass without much pain. Accordingly , we have given ourselves discretionary powers. Such as announcing the RM7 billion stimulus package. Which will be spent in 2009. why in 2009? Why not now? I am sure our finance and treasury people, know there are such things like conception and implementation lags. Unless of course, the people think we are only going to be hit in the 2nd quarter of 2009.

I thought our system of government depends on sunlight, transparency, and public awareness. Or we wish these to happen. We came out with all those sugar coated words saying this and that. The fact it, our system of government depends on parliament exercising its constitutional duty to make laws and the government executing them. An economic crisis is no excuse for turning our back on democracy.

Are we considered old-fashioned then to believe in the democratic process? Isn’t it part of the legislative process and provided for by the laws here, that parliament is in charge of appropriating taxpayer money?. That’s why we have parliamentary budget sessions at the close of the calendar year. Its not a forum where chatterboxes and windbags come to the podium to speak, is it? If parliament explicitly decides not to appropriate it for a certain purpose, where does the government get the right to do so? By pulling the money out of another bag or the Finance minister’s pocket?

I hope the finance minister will not come out with some bunnies under his magic hat. We have already got one particular hat, that seems not to be controlled by anyone. That particular hat is called the Employee Provident Fund( EPF). We know what it does. It takes our money and invest and guarantees us a minimum return. No big deal. Pak Man Telo says can give us higher return. Well, some RM5 billion has already been committed to save one ValueCap sdn bhd. But please be aware the money in the EPF, and in places God knows where, are not slush funds. Consolidated funds belong to Parliament but slush funds are not. Therefore when we are bulldozed into accepting the application of the RM5bn of EPF money as a fait accompli and the RM7bn stimulus package without it being debated and tabled in parliament, don’t they sound more like slush funds to you?

If the money the government gets is not from parliament, then it must come from a slush fund. Then everything becomes arbitrary. The effects? We are no longer a nation of laws. We are a nation of MOF and Bank Negara and officials with billions of Ringgit of taxpayer money to dispense as they see fit. Why rescue undervalued counters and not the real economy instead? Better yet, why not give state and local governments more money, the lack of which have resulted in deteriorating public services and so forth. Or give out as helicopter money to citizens and small businesses? Australia is giving out $1000 per child to families I heard.

The danger of not bringing the rescue plan before parliament or even committing EPF money to some businesses, is that it makes the whole affair shrouded in secrecy. No one knows exactly how or by what criteria. Did Khazanah or the government demand for example asked Valuecap to submit a business plan as did the American Congress from the big automakers in USA? Then perhaps we can know whether Valuecap has the much touted superior management talent.

10 comments:

de minimis 18 December 2008 at 11:13  

bro Sak

I share the sentiments and the concerns.

Malaysian Tigress 18 December 2008 at 11:15  

Dato,

Here is why: (from the cut and paste specialist)

Malaysian Insider:
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 - Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has ruled that economic stimulus plan announced in Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's address to Parliament yesterday are not amendments to the 2009 Budget but measures to tackle the economic crisis.

Pandikar Amin said the RM7 billion stimulus package was derived from savings in fuel subsidy and not an additional allocation and it was clear that the amount was not part of the Budget.

"It is not an additional Budget. There is no change to the Budget tabled at the policy level and no change to any figures to projections made in any documents. This is the response if necessary due to the economic downturn," Pandikar Amin told Dewan Rakyat.

He said the members would be debating the Budget tabled by then Finance Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Aug 29.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang had asked if what was presented by Najib, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, "does not exist. It can be forgotten as it was not tabled and is a waste of time of this House.

"Is this merely wayang kulit? That it has disappeared like David Copperfield? Does this mean there will be a Supplementary Estimate to discuss the RM7 billion stimulus package next year?" he quipped, referring to the renowned illusionist.

Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Husni Hanadzlah replied the stimulus package was at the prerogative of the ministry and that the House would debate the Aug 29 Budget.

"Originally we estimated oil prices of US$120 per barrel but now it has dropped. Based on our new projections, we will save RM7 billion and we will use it for certain necessities. Any such allocation only requires an administrative order. We merely wanted to be transparent so we announced the steps in advance. For the purpose of this debate, we will debate the Aug 29 figures," the Tambun MP said.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also sought to clarify if the Speaker meant that the RM7 billion is not part of the Budget.

"The question is that at the committee stage, we need an exact figure. So we will only debate the Aug 29 figures by the Prime Minister and not consider the opinion of the Finance Minister yesterday which are not binding to the budget," he said.


I wish I had a discretionary, unaccountable fund of that magnitude.

Malaysian Tigress 18 December 2008 at 11:28  

Oh,

The savings in fuel subsidies ENTITLES them to the monies. Meaning it isn't the rakyat's money too and they do not have a right to know how it will be disbursed?

Forgot to highlight this part:

"Originally we estimated oil prices of US$120 per barrel but now it has dropped. Based on our new projections, we will save RM7 billion and we will use it for certain necessities. Any such allocation only requires an administrative order. We merely wanted to be transparent so we announced the steps in advance. For the purpose of this debate, we will debate the Aug 29 figures," the Tambun MP said.

Malaysian Tigress 18 December 2008 at 11:32  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Malaysian Tigress 18 December 2008 at 11:36  

BTW, I love their definition of "merely wanted to be transparent".

Can we now seriously start fighting for the Freedom of Information Act? Or will it be fruitless too?

Even Guyana is closer to passing one.

Malaysian Tigress 18 December 2008 at 11:59  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Malaysian Tigress 18 December 2008 at 11:59  

Dato, sorry for clogging up your comment box (again),

tapi I am really sad. Despite the tsunami of march 2008, nothing has been done to address the fundamental issues of lack of transparency, accountability and proper governance that lead to general discontent.

They are just carrying on with their condescending, patronizing, "unanswerable to no one", methods of administration.

Even with a larger opposition in Parliament, adequate check and balance is still unattainable.

Wasn't the fuel subsidy savings supposed to upgrade the transportation system? Does it mean that since oil prices are down, we can put that all too neglected item on the backburner?

Why is everything conducted in an ad hoc manner?

The real demand for change must come within UMNO. Bukan setakat demanding "hak2 Melayu".

What about hak untuk memastikan Tanah Melayu mereka ditadbir dengan jujur oleh pemimpin2 yang diagungi mereka dan dengan cara yang menjanjikan kemakmuran untuk anak2 dan cucu2 mereka sendiri??? Dan juga untuk rakyat lain yang bernaung di bawah negara ini?

Isn't that the way to become the ultimate "tuans"???

What is WRONG with these people.

Malaysian Tigress 18 December 2008 at 13:23  

Dato,

Despite the US Congress not approving the auto bailout, the US gomen still dipping into their own "slush fund", the TARP for Wall Street bailouts to bail out the Auto industry.

But that I think is a necessary evil lah, since every 1 in 10 US jobs are connected to the auto industry, not to mention the horrendous effects of these bigwigs going bust will have on the world.

So much for democracy the good old American way...heheh.

(and the auto CEOs still came by private jets to senate hearings until an uproar....the high level auto execs willing to cut their perks and sacrifice their huge compensation packages? nah...still the regular American people who suffer.)

BLACKBEARD 18 December 2008 at 14:58  

Salam Dato',

Been reading your writing for quite sometimes. I wonder what would have happened to Pahang and the country if more UMNO politicians are like you. You are refreshingly articulate, you understand economics and a world apart from the typical warlords now in government. I'm sure Temerloh could do with one :)

Anonymous,  18 December 2008 at 16:45  

Let's tell the BN Government this:

GIVE A SINGLE IJN SHARE TO SIME DARBY, A COMPANY WE ALL HATE, AND WE WILL TEACH YOU A LESSON YOU WILL NEVER FORGET IN THE KUALA TERENGGANU BY-ELECTION ON JANUARY 17, IN OTHER BY-ELECTIONS AND IN THE 2013 GENERAL ELECTION!

DO YOU UNDERSTAND NAJIB? WE WON'T BOTHER TO SAVE YOU THE EMBARRASSMENT OF BEING THE SHORTEST-SERVING PRIME MINISTER IN OUR HISTORY!

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