Revised Budget 2023 does not reflect Anwar's commitment to address national debt - Economist

25 Feb 2023 09:42am
Finance Minister and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before re-tabling Budget 2023, yesterday. - Photo: BERNAMA
Finance Minister and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before re-tabling Budget 2023, yesterday. - Photo: BERNAMA

SHAH ALAM - The re-tabled Budget 2023 announced by Finance Minister and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim does not reflect his commitment to address the country's national debt and liabilities amounting to RM1.44 trillion, says an economist.

DM Analytics senior researcher Zouhair Rosli said a case in point for this was the move to continue with the Mass Rapid Transit 3 (MRT3) mega project.

The decision, he said will just add another RM40 billion debt to service in the future.

“This is on top of the existing government guarantee loans for Danainfra and Prasarana of RM120 billion.

"This move is also not consistent with what he (Anwar) preaches which is to bring down the country's national debt," he told Sinar Daily.

On how the budget will be financed, Zouhair said Anwar did not make it known to the people on where the money will come from.

During the Budget 2023 re-tabling speech, Anwar only noted that the expected revenue collection for 2023 was RM291.5 billion, leaving out the details on how the government will garner the funds.

This could be compared to the previous budget tabled by the previous government which was based on global crude oil prices averaging around USD$90 per barrel in 2023, Zouhair said.

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"However, the World Bank expected the price to average at about USD$92 this year which could add approximately another RM700 million to the government’s coffers.

"A more detailed explanation from the budget will help us identify other source of revenues coming in for instance personal income tax revenue from higher tax rate for higher income and so on," he said when contacted.

Meanwhile, economist Professor Kuperan Viswanathan said the allocations for the various ministries were consistent with the Malaysia Madani policy.

He said the increase in the operating budget was due to the increase in subsidies resulted in fuel prices hike over the period.

"We could not avoid operating expenses as it is to pay for civil servants' salaries and maintaining government services," he said when contacted.

He said the current oil prices were sufficient to finance Budget 2023 and if the economic growth rate of 8.7 per cent for last year was an indication of the growth rate for 2023, then there should be sufficient revenue collection to reduce the budget deficit.

Yesterday, Anwar re-tabled a the revised Budget 2023, with a total allocation of RM386.14 billion.

This represented a RM15.8 billion increase compared to the RM372.3 billion initially allocated by the previous government.

From the total, operational expenditure accounted for RM289 billion, with RM99 billion for development expenditure.

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