It is not too late for Najib to convene a special meeting of Parliament to present the revised 2015 Budget
The question the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak must answer is why he is not convening a special meeting of Parliament to present the restructuring of the 2015 Budget.
As it is Parliament which approved the RM273.9 billion 2015 Budget, it is only right and proper, fully in accord with the principle of parliamentary democracy, that Najib should convene a special Parliament to present the restructured 2015 Budget because of the weakening of ringgit and the plunging oil prices.
It is not too late for Najib to do what is right, and convene a special meeting of Parliament to present the revised 2013 Budget as a special Parliament can be convened even within 48 hours. Otherwise, Najib would be showing utter contempt to Parliament and the principle of parliamentary democracy.
Oil-related revenue accounted for 29.5% of total government revenue. According to the Estimates of Federal Government’s Revenue 2015, oil-related revenue is calculated on the basis of Malaysian crude oil price being USD110 per barrel in 2014 and USD105 per barrel in 2015.
Based on these assumptions, the Government had projected a total income of RM235.2 billion for the 2015 Budget with a total expenditure of RM273.9 billion, targetting a gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 5% to 6%, and trimming the fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP by end-2015.
By early November, crude oil prices have fallen to USD80-85 per barrel. Today, global crude oil prices have already declined by almost 60% from the middle of last year to trade below US$50 per barrel.
The latest forecast is that oil prices could trade around US$40 a barrel in the first half of the year.
It has been estimated that every drop of USD1 per barrel would cost the federal government about RM650 million in revenue.
This was why almost a month before 2015 Budget was approved by the Dewan Rakyat on 25th November 2014, DAP had already called for a revision of the 2015 Budget as its very basis and projections had been knocked off by the drastic fall in crude oil prices and other economic developments including the weakening of the Malaysian ringgit.
Najib had ample time to convene a special Parlament to present his restructured Budget 2015. Why is he not doing so?
In fact, the last Cabinet meeting for last year on Dec. 17, 2014 should have taken the bold but right decision for a special Parliament for a revised 2015 Budget before the end of last year.
Instead, the Cabinet went on on year-end vacation, and the country was virtually without a Federal Government with the Prime Minister and most Ministers out of the country when Malaysia suffered the worst floods catastrophe in living memory three days before Christmas.
Although Najib cut short his vacation in Hawaii and subsequently ordered all Ministers to return from their vacation overseas, not all Ministers complied, and the Cabinet was unable to hold any special meeting whether on the worst floods catastrophe or revised 2015 Budget before the 2015 New Year, and the Cabinet could only be reconvened on 7th January 2015.
The question is whether a revised 2015 Budget was on the agenda of the first Cabinet meeting on January 7, and if so, why a special Parliament was not convened as there was ample time to do so.
A special Parliament should have been convened by the second Cabinet meeting on January 14.
In fact, a special Parliament meeting could still be convened in a matter of 48 hours. Why has Najib ruled out such an option as he is showing utter contempt for Parliament which had approved the original 2015 Budget on Nov. 25.
A special Parliament meeting is urgent and imperative, as apart from a revised 2015 Budget, many issues confronting the country need to be addressed, including (1) the worst floods catastrophe in living memory and the appalling state of unpreparedness with regard to the Flood Disaster Management Preparations by the National Security Council; (2) the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Illegal Immigrants in Sabah; (3) the RM1.3 trillion illegal capital flight in the ten years from 2003 to 2012; and (4) the urgent need for moderates in Malaysia regardless of race, religion, region or politics to unite and defeat the rhetoric and politics of hate, bigotry, intolerance and extremism.
MPs and Malaysians will be watching whether in the revised 2015 Budget, the Prime Minister is prepared to set the example by slashing the ballooning RM19.1 billion Budget for the Prime Minister’s Department for 2015.
At RM19.1 billion, the allocation for the PM’s Department represents an increase of about 16% from RM16.5 billion last year. In 2013 Budget, the budget for PM’s Department was RM14.6 billion.
In the revised 2015 Budget, the Prime Minister’s Office must set an example for all Ministries and its allocation of RM19.1 billion should be slashed by more than 50 per cent.
I want to remind Najib that in the early 1960s, the total Federal budget expenditure per year did not even reach RM1 billion!