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Election Watch

Focus on long-term issues

14th October, 2014
The Star

NOW that the Prime Minister has delivered a peoples’ friendly Budget 2015, let’s say a big thank you for all the goodies. But also let’s ask, how could the Budget have been better?

After all, it’s always good to review and revise and improve, for that is the essence of our individual as well as national progress.

Firstly, the relationship between the people’s budget and the capital budget could have been more balanced.

The Budget tended to be more popular in its stance and less concerned with responding more strenuously to the economic and financial imperatives, mentioned in the Budget speech.

For instance, there was little mention of the longer term structural issues on how to reduce capital outflows, how to counter the brain drain, what to do to raise higher levels of meritocracy and international competitiveness.

Also, how can we overcome some of the causes of rising inflation?

There is corruption, expenditure wastage, protectionism and negotiated tenders and sheer inefficiencies in many parts of our economy and system.

The Budget therefore addressed the short-term problems quite well.

But the structural and harder challenges received less attention.

Secondly, although understandably, the short-term people’s budget and the longer term Capital Budget have some “symbiotic relationship”, we have to give higher priority to ensure greater socio-economic sustainability of our system of government and of course good governance.

This critical issue of continued sustainability for our national and people’s future well-being was recently admirably highlighted by the Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah.

We could certainly do much better by taking heed of his sound professional advice.

Thirdly, the seven main strategies in the Budget are positive, useful and welcome.

But it would have been better at this stage at our relatively higher stage of development – 57 years after Merdeka, if we focus our policies much more on a Malaysian agenda, without any racial basis.

Let’s increasingly concentrate on just universal human values rather than narrow race and religious parochialism in our policies and implementation of them.

What we need in our budgets is inclusiveness and not exclusiveness. We need to promote greater national unity and not any sense of disunity or even perceived feelings of alienation.

Finally, I believe that the Budget was generally well received by the rakyat as a popular Budget – with lots of perks.

However, let’s keep our socio-economic and political policies focussed more on the long-term sustainability with continuing and greater peace and progress for all Malaysians.

TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM

Chairman

ASLI Center of Public Policy Studies

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