Presented Budget 2024 riddled with errors, amounted to RM4bil difference, claims Opposition Leader

KUALA LUMPUR: The government presented a flawed Budget 2024 with errors which were only corrected after discrepancies were pointed out, claims Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.

The Opposition Leader alleged that the correction issued by the government after the Budget 2024 details were questioned amounted to about RM4bil, approximately 1% of the whole Budget 2024.

At a media conference here Friday (Nov 3), Hamzah showed a letter from the Office of the Deputy Finance Minister 1 Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan to MPs dated Oct 17 and titled “ Notice of Change to Total of Revenue post-Budget 2024 on the Fiscal Outlook and Federal Government Revenue Estimates 2024”.

The letter then listed that there were corrections to page 231 on the items of indirect tax comprising excise duties and service tax which contributed to the total federal government revenue.

In the Budget 2024 book released on Oct 13, which was read out by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the letter stated that the total federal government revenue was RM308,084,005,000.

The letter than stated that Page 231 has a correction on the figures of indirect tax (RM4,698,500,000) comprising excise duties (RM1,148,500,000) and service tax of (RM3,450,000,000) which then contributed to a net revenue gain of RM4,559,005,000 which then totalled the federal government revenue to RM312,159,005,000.

Ahmad Maslan then apologised for the errors in the letter to the MPs.

At the media conference, Hamzah however said that he is not calling for the invalidation of the Budget 2024 as it has already been passed by the Parliament.

“I am pointing out the lack of preparedness of the government before the presentation of the Budget 2024 to the nation,” said Hamzah, who said that this showed the opposition MPs were more competent in studying the budget than the ruling MPs.

The Bersatu secretary-general also questioned Anwar, who is also the Finance Minister, for “afterthought remedies” upon being questioned by the Opposition.

Hamzah’s media conference at the Bersatu party headquarters here were also attended by Opposition Chief Whip Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan and other Opposition MPs such as Datuk Seri Radzi Jidin, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, Wan Ahmad Fahysal Wan Ahmad Kamal and Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

“A Budget should have been done in detail with much engagement with others as it is an important document to the country. Prior to preparing the Budget, all sectors should have been engaged to ensure that the Budget, once presented, provided the right impact.

“For the first time in history, the Opposition MPs received a backdated letter on Oct 23, post-Budget 2024 presentation, stating that there were corrections to be made to the Budget 2024 which was presented on Oct 13.

“Why did the Finance Minister not make the corrections during his presentation of the Budget 2024 on Oct 13? Why was the government issuing a letter of corrections as an afterthought?

“Why only come up with the corrections after I had asked on Oct 16 for an explanation on the 2% increase in Sales and Service Tax? Did the Finance Ministry not engage the relevant industries?" said Hamzah who called out the Prime Minister for not having put enough effort to ensure the Budget was correct before he read it out to the nation.

He also said Anwar's reply to his question in Parliament on Nov 2 on the increase of SST for the logistics industry was unsatisfactory as any increase of SST has a big impact on the industry chain.

On Oct 13, Anwar said the government plans to increase the service tax rate to 8% instead of 6% and this does not include services such as food and beverages, and telecommunications.

"The government will also expand the scope of taxable services to include logistic services, brokerage, underwriting and karaoke," he said when presenting Budget 2024 in the Dewan Rakyat then.

Previously on Oct 26, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan explained that a late decision to raise the service tax just before Budget 2024 was tabled on Oct 13 led to an error in early documents for the government’s spending bill.

He said the error occurred in the Fiscal Review document of Budget 2024, which had been printed and distributed before Oct 13.

He said that a copy of the Budget 2024 fiscal review document was initially distributed and put on the table of 222 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 12.

However, the Cabinet had agreed at noon on Oct 13 to increase the service tax rate (SST) from 6% to 8%.

“So, we did not have enough time to reprint the document before the tabling of the Budget later that day on Friday,” he said.

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