KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28, 2016:
Economist Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam says the government could have implemented more measures to revitalise the nation’s economy.
Commenting on the recalibration of Budget 2016 announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak today, Navaratnam said that the plans introduced by the government were insufficient to address problems currently being faced by the people and nation.
“The measures unveiled by the government are useful but are not good enough for the economy.
“They (the government) could have done much more, this is a wonderful opportunity when the economy is slowing down. People will understand if the government has to take tough measures, especially to restructure the economy and make it more competitive,” he said when contacted by The Rakyat Post.
He said the government should be more transparent in giving a holistic view of the economic environment to the public, adding that certain issues could have been addressed in the revised budget.
“We expected more – what are the measures taken to cope with corruption? What are the steps taken to cut down on money politics?
“What are we doing about the wastage problems faced by the country as well as penalising those who endorse wastage which affects the poor? The measures implemented are not strong enough,” he said.
Navaratnam added the steps taken by the government to reduce the cost of daily basic necessities for the people by liberalising the control of import quotas or Approved Permits (APs) on agricultural produce were not adequate to cope with the problem.
“Why not all the APs be reduced? Why is the focus only on the agricultural sector?
“It is very difficult to say whether this will bring down the prices of goods and initially aid the people.”
In a later statement, Navaratnam mentioned that the government should have introduced structural changes to drive the economy out of its current slowdown.
“What is the full impact of the revised budget on the budget deficit as a proportion to the gross domestic product (GDP)?
“Some assurance is needed that the New Economic Model policies would be followed through, only then confidence inspiring would have been more forthcoming and reassuring.
“While we need to ensure fair pricing, let’s not ignore the need to step up measures to cut off more AP’s, introduce more policies to step up productivity and production and reduce protectionism.
“The tax reliefs and Employee Provident Fund reductions and MyBeras, will definitely benefit the poor. But what specific policies have been put in place to reduce inflation which is the major problem they face,” he said.
Navaratnam said although the measures introduced by the government in its revised budget today were necessary, it was insufficient to reduce the country’s ongoing trust deficit as well as to boost confidence in arresting the slide in the nation’s currency and economy.
He also raised the question of whether there would be another revision of the budget in the days to come.