UMNO information chief Shahril Hamdan has criticised the Opposition for describing the recently-tabled Budget 2023 as an election budget, with certain leaders from DAP going one step further by questioning its implementation.
Shahril, who is also the special economic adviser to the prime minister, questioned why these leaders also “admitted” in the same vein that the RM372.3 bil Budget that was tabled on Friday (Oct 7) was not a bad one.
He singled out Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming for describing the Budget as “comprehensive” and DAP social media bureau chairperson Syahredzan Johan for tweeting that “many good things” were announced.
However, Ong had also said that the devil is in the details while Syahredzan questioned when Budget 2023 measures would materialise, noting previous Budget measures that are still being distributed to the people.
Even so, Shahril admitted that the cash assistance provided for in Budget 2023 was the highest in the history of any Budget in Malaysia.
“True, the cash assistance this time is the highest in the history of any Budget. True, the Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB loan) for the bottom 40 income group (B40) is set at only 1.5% and almost guarantees an annual profit.
“True, this time even the middle 40 income group (M40) had targeted assistance for them. True, the youths and those who provide e-hailing services also benefit from cash assistance, insurance coverage and easy loans for the purchase of vehicles or food trucks.
“However, the Budget this time does not immediately forget the long-term agenda, which is not purely populist in nature,” he said in a statement.
“Largest development expenditure in history”
Shahril pointed to the RM95 bil development expenditure in Budget 2023, which is the largest in history, and the measures and expenses announced to attract investment in identified industries and become one of the top 10 most competitive countries in the world.
He also noted that the Budget listed out steps towards a carbon-neutral target, including the exemption of approved permit (AP) fees for electric vehicles (EV) and the expansion of charging facilities so that moderately-priced vehicles can also flood the market.
“These are just a few simple examples to illustrate that if other parties want to describe this as an ‘election Budget’ (the other parties, not me), it may be because they fear that the people will be able to judge the difference between the measures and themes of this Budget compared to previous years.”
He added that Budget 2023 should not come across as one that is merely dumping lots of cash in the pockets of the people or that its RM55 bil worth of subsidies and cash aids are far more than the RM25 bil allocation in the 2019 and 2020 Budgets.
“But it’s much more than that because it is a Budget that reflects (the Government’s) competence in managing the situation and its ability to build the nation not just for today.”
Shahril also took potshots at the former Pakatan Harapan Government and some of its ministers.
“(We’re) not asking the people to help the Government like the prime minister of 2019 (did). (We’re) not asking the people to sacrifice like the finance minister of 2019 (did). (We’re) not promising the moon, stars and flying cars.
“But (we have) a Budget that has a vision while standing on the real earth, for the benefit of the Malaysian Family. That’s the difference.” – Oct 9, 2022
Main photo credit: The Prime Minister’s Office