Saturday, October 25, 2014

2181) ARKIB BERITA PPIM - 10/10/2014 MOLE.my - Najib's Approval Rating Hinges on Budget 2015

The Budget 2015 will determine the popularity of the Barisan Nasional government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak


The Barisan Nasional government’s approval rate under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak hinges on the ‘goodies’ and feel good provisions to be spelled out under Budget 2015.

While critics suggest that Najib’s approval rating has been on a slide due to a host of public grievances including rising cost of living, political analysts and consumer associations say Budget 2015 would be the deciding factor.

“The budget will determine the people’s perception and by extension their support. It will be good for the government if the budget turns out to be people-friendly. Otherwise, the prime minister needs to be ready to cushion the negative impact due to people’s disappointment,” said Universiti Malaysia Sarawak political lecturer Dr Jeniri Amir.

Jeniri said it was important for the government to come up with concrete measures to ensure that the people’s needs were met as they were still reeling from the latest fuel price hike.

On Oct 1, the government announced a 20sen subsidy reduction for RON95 petrol and diesel, pushing the prices up by 20sen to cRM2.30 per litre and RM2.20 per litre respectively.

The move, the government stated, was to ensure that the country’s finance remained strong and to keep up with the government’s subsidy rationalisation plan.

The explanation however failed to hold water as many questioned the quantum and timing of the fuel price hike that came into effect a few days before Hari Raya Aidiladha celebrations.

The public are also concerned on immediate hike in prices of consumer goods and the government’s apparent inability to address profiteering.

Jeniri said the people in Sabah and Sarawak were also hoping that the budget, to be tabled by Najib in Dewan Rakyat today, would see bigger allocations for infrastructure projects.

“The rural residents of Sabah and Sarawak are strong supporters of BN so the government needs to be sincere in addressing issues like poverty, health and basic necessities like clean water and electricity,” he added.

Universiti Utara Malaysia political analyst Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said the level of support towards the government would highly depend on the amount of incentives given in the budget.

He said although the people were still unclear on the government’s rationale to introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST), majority of them only wanted the government to appease them.

“What they want to listen is the increase in incentives, particularly in BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia) or perhaps a salary hike for civil servants.

“If they don’t get these things, I’m afraid the voice of dissent will grow louder while approval rate continues to slide,” he added.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Mohd Khalid Atan said the people were waiting for some provisions to address skyrocketing cost of living in the country.

“The government should be mindful that the public is expecting them to reduce their burden.

“I believe the government is aware of the people’s needs, otherwise it won’t be a people’s budget,” he added.

The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association secretary general Datuk Paul Selva Raj expressed hope that the government ‘listens to the people’s needs’.

Malaysian Islamic Consumer Association chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan hoped for more incentives to educate the public on consumerism.

“By educating consumers, they will also understand various consumer policies drafted by the government,” he added.

In previous media reports, analysts and economists said the Budget 2015 aimed to put the economy on a firmer financial footing while focusing on the implementation of the GST in April next year.

They believed the delivery of a fiscally disciplined budget would sustain growth and pull Malaysia away from any ratings downgrade.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, had said that the budget would be pro-business and people-friendly.

Likely proposals in Budget 2015 include announcements related to a review in the fuel subsidy mechanism, government debt management and incentives for Islamic banking and the capital market.

The prime minister was also expected to address the shortage of affordable housing.  

The BR1M cash handouts targeted at the lower income households is also likely to be increased.

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