21 October 2015


Press Release: Fiscal consolidation meaningless without commitment to prudence and solving immediate crisis

21 October 2015, Kuala LumpurThe government will table the 2016 Budget on Friday, 23 October 2015 amidst heightened concerns over the current position of the Malaysian economy and politics. Commenting on the expected tabling of the budget, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, IDEAS Chief Executive, said:

“The 2016 Budget will probably be the most contested budget in recent Malaysian history. It will be tabled by Prime Minister Najib Razak at a time when many are questioning his competency and suitability to remain in office.  The crisis of confidence in his leadership is so bad that some parliamentarians have suggested that this budget should be rejected to indicate a vote of no confidence in Najib’s leadership.”

However, Wan Saiful added, “Regardless of the drama we can expect during the budget debate, we cannot deny that the government is facing a challenging time given low oil prices, the low ringgit exchange, and slower growth rate.  It is very important that Najib shows commitment to prudence in his budget speech.  We want to know if he is serious about improving the country’s fiscal position or if he wants to continue his borrowing spree.”

Wan Saiful further said, “Lowering operational expenditures may signal such commitment. It can be done by cutting unnecessary spending, maintaining the size and salary of the civil service and adopting competitive open tendering to find suppliers that can deliver goods and services at the best value for taxpayers’ money.  On the other hand, bailing out ailing government companies, awarding large infrastructure projects without open tenders, and moving debts off balance sheet are hardly signs of prudence.”

“I also feel that Najib needs to prove that he is seriously working to solve the 1MDB problem.  This is an issue that has been haunting us for too long and until today we do not see a convincing solution.  It is not enough for Najib and his administration to accuse critics of politicising the issue.  In fact, by doing that, they too are politicising the issue, and, worse, without providing any answers.  I feel that the 1MDB saga has severely tarnished the country’s reputation and if we don’t do anything the crisis of confidence will only get worse.  If the government bails out 1MDB through Budget 2016, it can only be a spiral downward for this administration.”  



IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. As a cross-partisan think tank, we work across the political spectrum. Our purpose is to advance market-based principles, and we are not bound by party politics, race or religion.

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