PETALING JAYA, Jan 18, 2014:
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has urged the government to set up a bi-partisan “National Crisis Committee” comprising government and opposition Members of Parliament, economists, market experts and other specialists.
“The committee should be tasked with the responsibility of monitoring commodity prices on a daily basis. It must be given the authority to execute necessary measures to mitigate any negative impact once a consensus is obtained.”
He said the government must also tackle corruption and leakages, put a stop to the culture of wastage, opulent and spendthrift ways, cloaked under shady procurement processes and opaque privatisation awards as well as stop sweeping bad debts under the off-balance sheet carpet.
“There are no alternatives to good governance other than being transparent and truthful with information on the country’s finances.
“In this regard, we are already saddled with the scandalous 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and the people will not tolerate yet another one.”
Anwar said the government must take these actions swiftly due to falling oil prices, weakening crude palm oil prices and plunging Ringgit which had an adverse impact on the country’s revenue.
He said the government should also be prepared to introduce austerity measures in the event oil prices go lower and remain there.
“This will mean cutbacks on mega projects while continuing to spend on critical areas such as healthcare, education and humanitarian assistance for flood victims.”
His statement was made ahead of an anticipated budget restructuring to be announced next week by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, given the recent events, including falling oil prices and the east coast floods.
The Permatang Pauh Member of Parliament was speaking during a “Meet Anwar, Selangor” dialogue with youngsters organised by the Anwar Ibrahim Club (AIC) at One World Hotel this afternoon.
He pointed out that income from oil and gas made up 30% of Malaysia’s total government revenue, and the 2015 Federal Budget that was tabled on Oct 10 last year was based on an oil price range of US$100 (RM355) to US$105 (RM372) per barrel.
“Even before the plunge to the current levels, Petronas had warned that if crude prices averaged at US$70 (RM248) to US$75 (RM266) per barrel, its overall contribution to government revenue would fall short of 8%.
“This means a shortfall of RM19.4 billion of the estimated revenue of RM242 billion against the 2015 budget projection.”
Anwar also took the government to task for lack of serious mitigation measures against flooding despite it being an annual phenomenon.
He cautioned the rakyat to be prepared for tougher times ahead as government spending could be reduced and growth slows down, by remaining frugal and not take on additional, unnecessary debts.
“As inflation continues to rise while wages remain stagnant, the rakyat will face greater economic hardship and income inequality will continue to widen.
“Meanwhile, we want the government to come clean on the economic outlook for the nation.
“The people await the announcement on Tuesday and expect serious and earnest efforts to be put in for the restructuring of the 2015 budget.”