A supplementary budget in March?!

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Spring is in the air, and our government is already asking parliament for more money!

In a rather weird moment, Putrajaya is now asking Parliament for more money via a supplementary bill for RM3.3 billion. This brings the amount of cash being allocated for 2016 to a whopping RM270 billion – within three months of the new year.

So the question raised should be what the money is for. According to The Malay Mail Online:

  • RM2.3 billion will be channelled toward statutory funds, with RM240 million designated for the State Reserve Fund to “assist states facing a management account deficit and cash show problems,” with another RM2.09 billion iearmarked for development.
  • Another RM575 million for the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry will be used for the solid waste management in seven states which are currently in the process of being privatise.
  • Another RM132 million is meant for the Foreign Ministry to help with the “operation costs for Malaysian representatives abroad” due to the decline in the ringgit.
  • RM50 million was also requested for the Prime Minister’s Department to facilitate the “operation costs” by the Civil Defence Department (JPAM) following its move into the Home Ministry while RM58 million will be allocated to the Transport Ministry to help with the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
  • The Education Ministry’s budget also requested an additional RM125 million to finance the maintenance of government schools.

For the State Reserve Fund, one has to wonder why this was not preplanned all the way back in 2015 before the budget was presented.

What is different now?

Well, two things are happening right now that might shed some explanation – Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir is no longer the Mentri Besar of Kedah, and Sabah and Sarawak are looking at their state elections.

The second point, meanwhile, is rather suspicious. What has changed in 2016 in just three months to the point that the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry under Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan needs an additional RM575 million for solid waste management in 7 states?

Is this for the rolling out of trash separation in these 7 states? Abdul Rahman should clarify.

Similarly, RM132 million is being budgeted to the Foreign Ministry due to the weakening ringgit. I’m not sure who wrote this, but the ringgit is currently appreciating in value against foreign currencies, particularly the dollar and the sterling pound.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.23.48 PM.png
Data from XE.com

As seen above, the Malaysian Ringgit is strengthening somewhat against the Sterling. In fact, we are currently seeing the ringgit being stronger compared to before the Budget was tabled in October.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.24.22 PM.png
Data from XE.com

Similarly here, the ringgit is stronger than the dollar compared to October when the budget was tabled. Thus, one has to wonder just what is the rationale over this so-called “weakening ringgit” argument within the Foreign Ministry.

However, I must say I’ve no objections whatsoever to the increase in RM50 million to the civil defence force (JPAM). Because this was already a problem during the budget when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak spoke about disaster mitigation.

From his speech then:

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2016 Budget Speech by Najib Razak

And yet, there was no mention of actually giving more to the people tasked to take action during disasters, as well as lead evacuation, search and rescue operations which is in fact the civil defence force.

However that being said, is RM50 million enough, when you look at RM180 million being given to yet another agency?

Finally, a bit of joy to the Education Ministry with some RM125 million suddenly turning up after multiple cuts were made to their budget. However, this time around, it is only for the maintenance of government schools.

Yet again, the question arises as to why this was not part of the initial budget tabled in October last year.

In fact, we are only nearing the end of the first quarter of 2016 and yet we have a government that either forget to allocate funds to certain projects, or – I hope this isn’t the case – has already spent whatever funds were allocated to them since January.

I am not saying that there is corruption going on or what nots, but in this instance, there should be some clarification as to why our government is truly lacking in making their arguments for more funds.

 

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