Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Malaysia Spends, UK Slashes!

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It is a picture of contrasts. In the UK, the government is resolute and even ruthless in the manner in which they are enforcing cuts in government spending to slash the budget deficit – e.g. £1.15 billion off spending on government consultants, advertising and travel this year (Webpage, posted May 24, 2010).

Both Chancellor George Osborne and his Lib Dem deputy, David Laws are dead serious about UK politicians taking their share of the pain, and even ministers are to be granted dedicated cars in "exceptional circumstances" and expected to "walk or take public transport" most of the time (ibid).

But here in Malaysia, we are doing exactly the opposite. We just ignore the fiscal sinkhole we are in. Whatever, wherever and whenever we can spend, to be sure, we will spend! So I didn’t bat an eyelid when I read in The Sun today that the official travel expenditure of the Prime Minister and his deputy actually increased 75.2 % from 2008 to October 12 this year. Batu MP Tian Chua had asked Najib to state the number of officers who had accompanied them and the cost of the official trips taken by both Najib and Muhyiddin.

And so Minister in the PM’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz in a written reply said 1,102 officers had chaperoned Najib and Muhyiddin on the duo’s official trips, costing a total of RM21.45 million (p 6). I wonder if these included Rosmah’s frequent overseas trips as well?

UK’s The Independent has revealed that half a million public-sector jobs will be lost as a result of the draconian cuts to be unveiled today by George Osborne, in Britain's biggest spending squeeze since the 1920s.

Other public employees will be asked to work shorter hours – and take pay cuts – to save themselves from the sack. Analysts expect another 500,000 jobs to be lost in private companies that rely on public-sector contracts or grants.

Whether UK citizens agree or disagree with the fierce nature of cuts, there is no doubt that their country cannot afford to continue spending like free-wheeling Malaysia does! At least, they are not in self-denial, but we are! Even if we don’t, we still ignore the elephantine deficit that threatens to trample us! Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, last night said the country (i.e. UK) faced a "sober" decade ahead, meaning "a decade of savings, orderly budgets and equitable rebalancing". When will the Malaysian government wake up from their deep slumber to face up to our own brobdingnagian deficit?

And the three teens who had pleaded guilty to desecrating a surau on August 23 were fined RM2,000 each by the Juvenile Court yesterday. Magistrate M Mageshwary also ordered them to report-in at the welfare department monthly for two years (The Sun, October 20, 2010, p 8). They should count themselves very lucky to escape with a light sentence!

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