The National Budget, which is prepared by the Minister of Finance who is also the Prime Minister in our case on behalf of the Cabinet and presented to Parliament each year, is like a blueprint for the economic well-being of the country for the ensuing (generally speaking) 364 days of the year.
Its importance to the economic health and development of the nation is underscored by the fact that it is debated upon in Parliament come the next sitting, usually after a short weekend. This year that tradition has been severely broken and the true impact of this deliberate move has yet to reveal itself in the days to follow.
Normally, any short-comings that may be inherent of the proposed Budget would be highlighted and debated at length by Members of Parliament so that whatever fine-tuning that may be necessary would be addressed. But not this time. Not with the 2009 Budget. For the first time in our history since independence, the debate of the national budget has been delayed for about 2 months immediately after the Hari Raya celebrations.
This delay, whether we like it or not, is likely to open for abuse and poorly-considered national expenditures may be rushed through for reasons best known to the perpetrators.
YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Opposition Leader, has said that a week is a long time in politics. Can one imagine what can happen within 60 days? It is our earnest hope that during this long lapse there would not be a situation which would give rise to the proverbial saying “shutting the barn doors when the horses have bolted.” Always, acting too late is a high price to pay.
There’s no disagreement that to-date the Badawi administration had sprung upon us many surprises. The latest of which is the sudden “study trip” or “lawatan sambil belajar” that BN MPs are planning to embark on and likely to happen within 7 to 19 September 2008. The timing is highly suspicious, to say the least. But the excuse? Let’s not refer to the thinking individuals, even the lay people can hardly believe its ludicrousness.
“We wanted MPs to update themselves with the latest information about agriculture and high-tech food production so that we can debate better on the Budget when Parliament sits again in October.”
Think about it. This is downright unacceptable and laughable given the current economic dire straits that we are in. And apart from insulting the intelligence, it also smacks of outright lying, sheer arrogance and contemptible irresponsibility of the current administration at the expense of the tax payers’ money.
The question for this week then is:
Is there any credibility left in the Badawi administration for it to lead and manage the country even for one more day before it further dooms the nation to the point of no-return, accelerated by its hopeless cluelessness, unbridled corruptions and dumb inaction to the devastating stagflation?