KUALA LUMPUR: Budget 2019 has failed to protect marginalised groups including the bottom 40% (B40) of the population, says Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin.
Khairy, who is holding the shadow Finance Ministry portfolio, asked the government why it did not give special emphasis to such groups which are struggling with the high cost of living.
“Under Budget 2019, we thought it would be a Budget for the rakyat, to uplift the poor, fishermen, farmers and students.
“However, what we see is a Budget of the free market, a Budget for the rich, and a Budget that privatises all aspects.
“The Budget has forgotten all the important segments,” he said while debating Budget 2019 in Parliament on Monday.
“How can they forget the plight of the fishermen and farmers especially during this rainy season,” asked the former Youth and Sports Minister.
Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) interjected, saying that the government had forgotten the group because, “there are no poor people in Damansara, just the rich”, in an apparent jab at Damansara MP Tony Pua, who is special adviser to the Finance Minister.
Khairy continued his speech, saying “power had inflated their egos”, causing them to neglect the lower income groups in the Budget.
“They could not even fulfil their election manifesto and the Budget is supposed cover their failure.
“But when they tabled it, they forgot about the plight of the poor,” he said.
Khairy labelled Budget 2019 a mere “copy paste, rebranding, continuation of Barisan's previous initiatives”.
He took a swipe at the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH), which is similar to the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) introduced by the Barisan government.
“Unfortunately, it has been reduced to RM500 to RM1,500,” said Khairy.
He also expressed his disappointment over Pakatan's failure to fulfil its promise to postpone repayments for National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) borrowers until their salary reached at least RM4,000 a month.
“Now those with a salary of RM1,000, which is below the national minimum wage, will get their salaries cut,” he said.
Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) interjected, asking the government why it failed to fulfil its pledges.
“In 2013, they promised they would give free education but in GE14, they pledged to allow PTPTN borrowers to make repayments only if their salaries reached RM4,000.
“What has happened to their promises,” he asked.
Meanwhile Khairy, when met outside the Parliament lobby, said the Budget tabled by the Pakatan government was “very cruel” towards the B40 group.
“There is also nothing for the middle class. I proposed an income tax credit for the middle class, I also proposed restructuring the income tax system so we can tax the rich more and distribute it to the middle class and B40 groups, but that wasn’t done by the (Pakatan) government,” he said.
Khairy also refuted that the budget tabled previously by the Barisan government was targeted at B40 groups in a bid to win their support.
“First of all, we helped the B40 group not because of votes, we helped them because they are poor, so I refute strongly your point that we helped the B40 because of votes,” he said to a question posed by the media.
Khairy said if the RM30bil special dividend from Petronas was removed from the Budget this year, then the amount does not run too far from what was tabled by Barisan last year.
“Debt servicing payments are almost the same because government debts need not be repaid immediately; these are long-term debts.
“So you had almost the same amount of money and you could have retained many of the programmes for the B40 groups, but you didn't.
“So to me, this shows that this Budget is very, very cruel towards the B40,” he added.