KUALA LUMPUR: PKR has rejected Prime Minister Najib Razak’s claim that the government would have to raise taxes if it were to provide citizens with free education.
In a press statement today, PKR Secretary-General Rafizi Ramli presented some calculations to show that free education was possible if the government “would stop wasting the nation’s wealth on scandalous projects like 1MDB.”
He said there was a great likelihood that the Malaysian public would have to bear 1MDB’s debt of “RM50 billion.” He arrived at the figure by factoring in interest and the declining value of the ringgit.
“If the country’s financial resources were not transferred to 1MDB, the sum given to the investment company would be enough to provide free education and to erase outstanding debts with the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN),” he said.
According to news reports, Najib told students in New York this week that only by dramatically raising taxes could the government afford to provide free education and wipe out PTPTN debts.
Rafizi said the government could repay the PTPTN loans gradually by spending about RM2 billion a year, which he pointed out was just a little above the annual amount spent by 1MDB. He noted that 1MDB’s statements showed it had spent RM5.8 billion in three years.
He also noted a recent statement by Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan that the amount owed to PTPTN as of last March was RM13.3 billion.
“RM13.3 billion is just a small portion of the RM50 billion given to 1MDB,” he said.
He said the government could provide free tertiary education and take over the PTPTN debts by spending RM6 billion a year. The amount was the total he arrived at by adding the RM2 billion repayment of PTPTN loans to the estimated cost of eliminating public university fees, the cost of setting up a fund for private tertiary education loans without interest and the cost of providing living allowances to students in both public and private universities.
~ Free Malaysia Today