Tapering our Budget expectations
T Obe sure, the Budget cannot possibly meet every expectation of every sector of the stakeholders. It is important to bear in mind that the national coffers was not at optimum level.
While the new government needed to generate enough revenue from sources that have the capacity to pay, it is also important to ensure that it reflects a shared burden.
Malaysia has, in the past, gone through tough times during the various externally triggered economic crises.
This time there were weaknesses in domestic governance that has exacerbated the situation.
One year’s annual Budget simply cannot be expected to provide the necessary remedies for a decade’s erosion of the economy and abuse of authority. In addition, the volatility and uncertainties in the external environment need to be taken into account moving forward.
However, the Pakatan Harapan government has taken courageous steps moving forward in mending the economy while at the same time having to deal with the problems at hand, which is the “legacy” of the previous government.
It is hoped that the revitalising of the public and private sector partnership in the Malaysia Incorporated Strategy will see the business sector across the board effectively participating in the economic growth and development of Malaysia.
One very important element to take into account is the extent to which the government can “intervene” in the decision making process of the private sector, including that in government-linked companies (GLCs).
Intervention can be acceptable only within the context of providing guidance that is in line with the overall socio-economic policy objectives of the nation.
The government should refrain from determining costs and pricing, unless it is with the specific intention to subsidise the business (such as that undertaken by a GLC).
A business is a business, regardless of whether it is run by the public or private sector.
Market forces must prevail. Not political expedience.
And it should not be the business of the government and politicians to dictate how any business should be run. There are so many factors in the equation.
Some are market imperatives and in the main business has to do with cost and revenue. Entrepreneurial wisdom and acumen will be the best judge as to what decisions to take.
I was the minister for public enterprises for seven long years. I ended up closing down many of the 900-odd “government” businesses. In fact, eventually the whole ministry was revamped and renamed Ministry for Entrepreneur Development.
The entire system can be at risk when the government vicariously “controls” business decisions and constrains decision makers in the business sector from making logical decisions based upon market imperatives.
Malaysia’s economic fundamentals are strong. The rakyat is united in realising a new era for Malaysia.
The government is clearly committed to serving the rakyat and moving the nation successfully forward.
May Budget 2019 allow us all to take those brave steps forward towards our national goals to be a developed nation with a responsible and accountable government, and a people with positive and forward looking mindsets. Sejahtera Malaysia kita.