Why splurge on civil service while some starve, says ex-official

PETALING JAYA: A former top Treasury official has questioned the budget allocation for a one-off payment for 1.3 million civil servants while ignoring the “pockets of starvation” in the country.

Ramon Navaratnam, a former deputy secretary-general of the finance ministry, said that civil servants led a relatively comfortable life, although they were not well off.

At the same time there were “pockets of starvation” in the country which should have received more attention from the government.

“Some can’t afford three square meals a day,” he said, referring to members of the M40 and B40 lower-income groups some of whom had resorted to raising white flags in front of their homes to signal that they needed assistance.

“The budget should have been tailored to help these groups. A special provision should have been provided for them.”

He said Budget 2022 tabled today appeared to be aimed at fishing for votes from among civil servants.

Earlier this year, people in need of aid or food were encouraged to display a white flag at their homes. (Bernama pic)

The budget was also very Bumiputera-centric, with people of other races seemingly left out – a perception which the government should not ignore.

“The budget should not come off as some are being treated as step child in a Malaysian Family. That is un-Malaysian,” he said, referring to the “Keluarga Malaysia” motto espoused by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said the government should provide a breakdown of the funds allocated to show it was being fair and just to all in a multiracial society. Earlier today, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim had also remarked that the budget was “race specific”.

Navaratnam, who is also an economist, took issue with the fact that the government did not disclose the sources of funding. “What about the deficit and debt? How much more is it going to be? And is the budget sustainable? For how long?”

There was no point in spending more if the government did not spend it wisely, Navaratnam said.

By : Sean Augustin – FMT

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