林德宜:2022财案──感觉良好 先甜后苦

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2022年财案中,土著社会的拨款高达114亿令吉,而非土著社会的拨款约为3亿令吉或2.6%。这相当于每个土著约得577令吉,而每个华人为15令吉,每个印裔为75令吉。这一次财案,更没有试图把我国社会与政府包装为一个包容性和非歧视性的,而从预算分配上,首相的“大马一家”口号几乎变为“大马一族”。事实上,这可能是我国历史上种族歧视最严重的财案。

林德宜:2022财案──感觉良好 先甜后苦

发布於 2021年11月19日 06時 • 最後更新 1天前 • 非同凡想 • 評論: 林德宜


对上个月在国会提呈的财政预算案中,最一针见血的评论或许就是来自前首相署部长再益依布拉欣的,他在推特上写道:“很高兴成为土著……获得数十亿拨款……(这)可是世界上,唯一一个依据种族来分配预算的国家”。他还反讽的说,成为一名公务员也“很好”,因为他们“总是能得到现金援助”。

根据官方估计,2022年财案中,土著社会的拨款高达114亿令吉,而非土著社会的拨款约为3亿令吉或2.6%。这相当于每个土著约得577令吉,而每个华人为15令吉,每个印裔为75令吉。

然而,这个偏颇于土著的数据也可能被低估了。例如,这是否包括用于伊斯兰事务的15亿令吉拨款、用于伊斯兰宗教学校维修用途的1.4亿令吉,以及那一些“意外”遗漏、隐藏或包装下的各种其他土著拨款?

种族歧视最严重的预算案

我们知道官方数据是如何遭操纵,以佐证其公平和公正的印象。这一次财案,更没有试图把我国社会与政府包装为一个包容性和非歧视性的,而从预算分配上,首相的“大马一家”口号几乎变为“大马一族”。事实上,这可能是我国历史上种族歧视最严重的财案。

公务员所谓的“一次性”700令吉援助金,也受到很多批评。130万名公务员将从中受惠,此外还有5天无记录假期。总额超过10亿令吉,这不是疫情下向公务员发放的第一笔援助。

“事少钱多”似乎是当下政府为公务员所倡导的新座右铭。

另外,此次财案备受关注的原因是,这次756亿令吉发展开销,是财案有历以来最大的款项。这些款项将主要通过借贷取得。当局声称,如此大规模的“注资”理由,是要用来启动经济并加速经济增长。因此,需通过公共部门投资带来的乘数效应,以让经济复苏。这期待是过于简化和错误的。

首先,并非所有预计的发展开销将用于实际(实物)投资,因为这些拨款很大一部分会转移到亏损的官联公司及机构。此外,还有可能面对著执行者能力不足以承担和交付相关的项目。过去的历史,足于证明了这一些论点。

另外,预期的乘数效应不太可能实现,因为发展开支的很大部分将用于国外采购,例如飞机、军火、重型设备等。

政府对私人投资的看法过于乐观。许多受疫情影响的中小企业,依然无法进入复苏阶段;新企业涌现也缓慢,而外国直接投资流入更存在许多不确定性。

感觉良好的财案

感觉良好的财案似乎只是著眼于2022年或23年初的选举而制定的。其他问题包括:

●对于享有特权的私营部门来说,其代表著一切照旧,各项大型计划依旧,以让朋党和当前的精英们皆大欢喜,不会心生不满

●财案集中在支出上,却忽略了改善收入方面的努力

●没有宣布新的政策,例如将亏损的官联企业进行重整;劳动力市场改革;解决与家庭债务相关的问题;应对与人口老龄化相关迫在眉睫的挑战
●对需要振兴的中小企业之需求关注不够

●与第12大马计划一样,财案错过了重组经济、使其更具竞争力、改革教育等的机会,并且未能为那些在新冠疫情下急需援助的人提供足够的救济。
●财案里的债务,不会由这一代政治人物或公务员来偿还。他们会把债务留给下一代马来西亚民众和纳税人去承担。

总结,是时候仔细检视财案是如何制定的。目前,各部门每年都会增加他们的预算要求,期望财政部在没有严格评估的情况下,以最小幅度削减和批准。因此,核心审批团队需以“零基预算”方式,对各部门和机构的拨款要求,进行更严格的审批。

财案部分措施,显然是奖励不相称的人,却要其他人付出代价。那些在臃肿官僚体制中的人得到了奖赏,而首当其冲受到新冠疫情冲击的民众,基本上只能自谋出路。从创新中获利的成功企业,则受到繁荣税的惩罚。

这笔我国历上最大的财案将为更广泛的滥用、浪费和腐败打开了方便之门。10月28日,国家总稽查司拿督聂阿兹曼透露,由于联邦部门和属下的机构财务管理不当,导致2020年蒙受了6.2亿令吉的损失。更令人担忧的是,最近的法院判决可能会助长财案的管理不善和政治劫持现象。

总之,2022年财案皆无法符合国家短期和长期的需求。

林德宜《2022财案:感觉良好 先甜后苦 》原文:Feel Good Pay Later 2022 Budget

Perhaps the most critical feedback on the budget recently presented in Parliament comes from former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim who tweeted: “Nice to be Bumiputeras… billions set aside,”. “(This) must be the only country in the world where (the) Budget is race-specific”. He also added that it was also “nice” to be a civil servant since they were “always getting cash handouts”.

According to official estimates, budget 2022’s allocation for the Bumiputera community comes up to RM11.4 billion, while the amount for the non-Bumiputera communities is about RM300 million or a 2.6% equivalent. This works out to about RM577 per Bumiputera vs RM15 per Chinese and RM75 per Indian.

Even this lopsided Bumiputera figure may be an under-estimate. Does it, for example, include the allocations of RM1.5b for Islamic Affairs, RM140 million for Islamic amd ‘pondok’ school maintenance, and various other Bumiputera allocations ‘accidentally’ missed out, hidden or disguised?

We know how official data is manipulated to support the impression of even-handedness and fairness. This time though there is no attempt at pretending to be an inclusive and non-discriminatory society and government. Satu keluarga appears to be mainly satu bangsa as far as the budget allocation goes. In fact this may be the most racially skewed budget in the nation’s history.

The so-called “one-off” RM700 for civil servants has also come under much criticism. 1.3 million civil servants are to receive this, besides being given 5 extra days of unrecorded leave. Amounting to over RM1 billion, this is not the first handout to civil servants during the pandemic period.

“More money for less work” seems to be the new motto that the Perikatan government is advocating for the nation’s civil servants.

Election Targeting

There are other reasons to be concerned about the budget. Development expenditure of RM 75.6 billion is the largest amount budgeted under this heading. It will be financed broadly from borrowings. The claimed rationale is that “pump priming” on this scale is needed to jump start the economy and accelerate growth. Hence the multiplier effects from public sector investment are needed to get the economic recovery. These expectations are simplistic and flawed.

In the first place not all of the projected development expenditure will go into real (physical) investment as a sizable chunk will be monetary transfers to loss making GLCs and other entities. Furthermore, the implementation capacity is inadequate to take on and deliver projects. The historical record bears testimony to this contention.

Additionally, the desired multiplier effects are unlikely as a sizable portion of the development expenditure will be devoted to procurements from abroad e.g. aircraft, weaponry, heavy equipment, etc.
The Government takes an over optimistic view regarding private investment. Many of the SMEs that have suffered as result of the pandemic are unable to get into a recovery mode; new enterprises are likely to emerge at a slow pace; and there are uncertainties about FDI inflows.

The feel good Budget appears simply formulated with an eye on an election in 2022 or early 23. Other concerns include:

●For the privileged private sector, it represents business as usual with big projects to keep the cronies and the current elite happy and uncomplaining
●The budget has focused on spending but ignored any effort to try and fix the revenue side
●No new policies were announced e.g, rationalization of loss making GLCs; labor market reforms; fixing the problems linked with household debt; addressing the looming challenges associated with an aging population
●Inadequate attention to the needs of SMEs in need of revival
●As with Rancangan Malaysia 12, it has missed opportunities to restructure the economy, to make it more competitive, to reform education, etc. and failed to deliver adequate relief for those in dire need from the Covid crisis.
●The borrowing for the 22 budget will not be repaid by this generation of politicians or civil servants. They are leaving the future generation of Malaysian public and taxpayers with the burden of repaying debt.

Conclusion:
It is time to take a close look at how the budget is formulated. Ministries send in their funding estimates each year by just increasing their requests in the expectation that the Ministry of Finance will cut down minimally and approve without rigorous assessment. There needs to be a more rigorous scrutiny of spending by a core overviewing team based on ‘zero based budgeting’ scrutiny of ministry and agency requests.

Part of the budget is geared towards rewarding the unworthy and making the wrong people pay. Those who have been working within a bloated bureaucracy with security have been rewarded, while citizens who have felt the brunt of the Covid crisis are basically left to fend for themselves. Successful corporations that have made profits from innovation are punished by the prosperity tax.

This largest budget opens the door to greater scope for abuse, wastage and corruption. On Oct 28, auditor-general Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid revealed that RM620.07 million in public funds was lost or wasted in 2020 because of the non-compliance of federal ministries and departments with financial management. The fear is that recent court decisions are likely to encourage greater mismanagement and political hijacking of the budget.

In conclusion, the budget serves neither the short term nor the long term needs of the nation.


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林德宜
公共政策分析学者

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