Bumiputera agenda allocation in Budget 2015 too low, say Malay groups

Malay NGOS are unhappy wth the Budget 2015 tabled by Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday, saying the government paid little attention to the Bumiputera agenda and rising living costs.

“I noticed that the allocation for the Bumiputera is very little. In terms of equity ownership, it is only set at RM600 million. How far can that go to reach the target of 70% Bumiputera population (by 2020)?” said Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman.

“The budget will not change the Bumiputera’s economy and did not outline the development policies for Bumiputeras that we had hoped for,” said Abdullah Zaik.

The prime minister announced yesterday that the Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas) would be allocated RM600 million to increase Bumiputera ownership in private and government-linked companies.

He said this would strengthen the Bumiputera agenda as they had yet to achieve the 30% corporate equity ownership target. He added that their effective control over corporations was also only around 10%.

Abdullah Zaik also said that Najib did not focus on how the government would solve the rakyat’s living-cost woes.

“I don’t see how the prices of goods will fall with all the incentives they introduced. We do not feel the estimated 4% reduction in prices of goods.”

Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) said that although the government had increased the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) cash handouts for next year, it was only a short-term solution for the people.

Abim president Amidi Abd Manan said the government must realise that the people were suffering due to high living costs and low wages.

“BR1M has proven not to be the right mechanism to resolve living cost issues. This is because living costs are based on daily needs, and those who work in Malaysia need 14 months of salary in a year (to survive).

“This is due to rising living costs. BR1M is only useful during certain periods, such as when school begins and during religious celebrations. It has little impact on living costs,” he said.

Amidi added that the government was not serious about the term “subsidy rationalisation” as the people would still have to bear the rising cost of goods due to the hike in petrol prices.

“It is ironic to use the term ‘subsidy rationalisation’. They increased the petrol prices, which will result in food prices going up as well.

“Subsidy rationalisation is not effective because the price of the subsidised items will continue to rise. I don’t see the rationale in raising petrol prices,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Najib said that BR1M for the lower income group would be raised from RM650 to RM950 next year, while households earning between RM3,000 and RM4,000 a month would now receive RM750.

Single people aged 21 and above and not earning more than RM2,000 a month are entitled to BR1M worth RM350, an increase by RM50, said Najib.

Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association President Datuk Nadzim Johan said he was concerned that the BRIM would breed a culture of laziness among Malaysians.

He said that while the government provided numerous incentives to the people, he was afraid that the benefits would not reach the people.

“I am more afraid of the people not benefitting from all this because of the culture that the BR1M cultivates, which is that you should not work hard otherwise you are not legible for BR1M.

“The people have failed to take advantage of many of the budget’s incentives because they are ignorant or unable to appreciate it,” said Nadzim.

The Malay NGOs also believed the government should place more emphasis on improving education.

“I was waiting for the government to announce that it would implement the School Based Assessment (SBA) programme more effectively. But this budget did not touch on that,” said Amidi.

He also said that the number of students in a class should be reduced.

Isma said education was not emphasised in next year’s budget, adding that this was perhaps due to more focus placed on managing the existing schools.

“The budget did not touch on reducing the burden of education because they need to address new necessities and improve on the current facilities.

“In terms of physical costs, parents will still have to bear a lot,” Abdullah Zaik said. – October 11, 2014.