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Will the rakyat really benefit this time?

By Tuesday March 10th, 2009 No Comments

Although many analysts agree that the RM60 billion stimulus package or mini budget tabled by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will help the country’s economy cope with the global recession, there are doubts on whether it will be effectively implemented and its benefits be felt by the people who need it most.

Just like the first RM7 billion stimulus package, questions are being raised on the implementation process of such packages, which invariably involve huge sums of money. Will the ordinary people on the streets – struggling to make ends meet in a climate of skyrocketing prices – really benefit this time?

Below are some reactions to the deputy prime minister’s much-awaited billion ringgit stimulus package.

Prof Mohd Agus Yusoff, political analyst from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaya

If we want to criticise the second stimulus package, there is a lot to be said but what is most important is, will the four-point stimulus plan tabled by Najib be realised in the next two years as promised? We have yet to feel the benefits of the first RM7 billion stimulus package.

What had happened to this first plan? The government seems to be good at announcing packages but ordinary citizens have yet to benefit from their implementation. The second package amounts to nine percent of the national budget so the people should directly feel the impact of the package.

Najib spoke of creating employment opportunities with the second package but can we actually see the employment opportunities created in front of us? The main point is the people must be able to feel directly the implementation of the stimulus packages.

Ramon Navaratnam, president of Transparency International Malaysia

Transparency International welcomes the second stimulus package and I believe it is quite wide ranging. But what concerns me the most is the amount. RM60 billion is a massive amount of money. Maybe the government is overreacting. The amount should be more moderate. What if the economic recession ends soon? What will happen to all this money?

I think if the government is drawing up RM60 billion for this package, they must have a detailed programme list and make sure that the programmes are really viable. It looks as if the government is eager to give contracts away when the package should in fact benefit the people.

Dr Jacob George, Consumer Association of Subang and Shah Alam (Cassa) president

It is a comprehensive budget taking into cognisance what the man on the street is talking about as well as critics of the government. There is equitable distribution of allocations, checks and balances, prioritisation of projects, identification of delivery system and audits. In that sense it is well-rounded and comprehensive.

Now what we need to know is how all this is going to be implemented. Previously, I have appealed for independent auditors to monitor the implementation of projects. I hope the government appoints independent auditors to ensure that the objectives of this mini budget are met.

For Joe Public, the bigger subsidies will offset their living cost. But their lifestyle is unlikely to change within the next eight months to a year. Joe Public is worried. He is saving and not going to spend big despite the perks announced. They are still going to be extremely cautious.

We can’t tell them that it is a fantastic budget and just go ahead and spend. Whatever Najib announced will take time to be translated on the ground and the balance sheets.

Anthony Thanasayan, disabled activist and Petaling Jaya City Councillor

The mini budget is utterly disappointing and has left the disabled community with nothing to cheer about. Times are bad and obviously the disabled community, who are facing job losses and rising medical costs, would be the worst affected.

The act of tokenism must stop. The government must address the needs of the disabled community or else some of us will be ‘wiped out’ during this economic crisis.

Source : Malaysiakini

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