COMMENT: After 56 years of Alliance and then Barisan Nasional-Umno (BN-Umno) rule, Malaysia’s 26 million populace is saddled with a federal debt of RM800 billion, according to then Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Muhkriz Mahathir in his briefing for Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) students late last year.
With Malaysia’s rich natural resources, including oil and gas, can there be any valid reason why we are burdened with such a massive federal debt?
Malaysia is currently the 27th largest oil producing country, out of 114 nations, in the world, rolling out 693,700 bbl/day.
Generally, the unabated graft-related plundering of the national coffers and the country’s disastrous capital flight in the billions of ringgit are haunting Malaysia’s economic and financial health.
Why then do you think Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was recently quoted as saying to the effect that Malaysians had to choose between Goods and Services Tax (GST) or go the Greece way with more borrowings.
Najib, in Budget 2013 speech, revealed that the country’s accumulated federal debt was more than RM620 billion.
However, Muhkriz told UUM students that Malaysia’s actual debt amounted to more than RM800 billion. That’s more than 70% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
With a growing population and a fast shrinking national cake, drastic socio-economic reforms are needed to reverse the rot.
Last year, a global survey by corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) placed Malaysia at the top of a list of 30 of countries where business was lost due to corruption.
Some 27 per cent of the 3,000 businessmen interviewed for the survey answered yes when asked whether their company failed to win a contract or gain new business in Malaysia in the last 12 months due to a competitor’s act of bribery.
Some 50 per cent of them said they suffered losses in Malaysia, followed by Mexico (48 per cent) and Indonesia (47 per cent).
Singapore ranked second lowest where only nine per cent of those interviewed answered in the affirmative, while only two per cent thought so about Japan.
The latest 2013 global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by TI placed Malaysia 53rd out of 177 countries.
It was just a slight “improvement” from last year’s 54th position. It sure does not justify this year’s RM252 million operating budget for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
~ The Ant Daily