Postponement of Pakatan Harapan's pledges protects budget integrity

KUALA LUMPUR: The delay in the implementation of five Pakatan Harapan (PH) pledges protects the integrity of the budget deficit and contain it to the target of 2.8% of GDP.

Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies Chairperson, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, said the budget should be implemented in a pragmatic manner to reflect current economic and financial realities, which includes the new zero-rated Goods and Services Tax that reduced budget revenue.

"Debt management will improve considerably with the postponement of these five pledges.

"The estimated RM1 trillion debt will now be more manageable by international financial standards, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund," he told Bernama.

On Thursday, the PH government decided to postpone the implementation of five of the initiatives contained in its '10 Promises in 100 Days' election manifesto until the country's financial situation recovers.

These included petrol subsidies for cars under 1,300cc and motorcycles under 125cc, Employees Provident Fund contributions for housewives and increasing the minimum wage.

Also postponed were plans to delay National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan repayments for graduates earning RM4,000 and below per month and expansion of the Skim Peduli Sihat nationwide, which offers RM500 worth of basic treatment at registered private clinics for Bottom 40% (B40) income households.

Ramon said the postponement of the pledges and other projects and programmes should be welcomed warmly by the responsible and caring public.

He said the public welcomed the transparency in the latest presentation of the budget changes by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

"He stated that the new budget changes will have a negative net revenue impact of RM6.6 billion and a positive net expenditure impact of RM6.3 billion. Thus, the net overall budget impact will be a negative balance of RM300 million," he said.

Ramon said the announcement was highly creditable and more so, since the public were informed in a timely manner and without the long delays as it was previously.

"We hope that the Pakatan Harapan will adopt these higher standards of transparency and pragmatism for future budget proposals – on operations, development expenditures and serious debt management – on a continuous and sustainable basis in the future, for the public good," he added. — Bernama