Media statement by Lim Guan Eng in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 10th February 2012:
PM should make the RM500 and RM100 welfare aid an annual program to prove that they are not merely political weapons
The Federal Government's one-off payments of RM500 to households with monthly incomes of less than RM3,000 and RM100 allowance to all primary and secondary school students should be given every year and not just before elections to prove that they are not merely political weapons to win elections.
These one-off payments will cost the Government RM1.8 billion for 3.4 million households and RM550 million for 5.5 million students. This is not a huge sum of money considering the fact that billions are squandered every year, such as the estimated RM1,077 billion of illicit money (including corruption money) that was illegally siphoned out of our country from 2000 to 2009 according to the latest report by Washington-based financial watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI). This is in addition to scandals such as the RM12 billion Port Klang Free Trade Zone, the RM52 billion bumi share scandal and the latest RM250 million "cows and condos" NFC fiasco.
Rather than waste the people's money through these scandalous projects, the Government should give back to Malaysians who sorely need aid during these trying times of high inflation and soaring household debt. Millions of Malaysians are struggling to get by especially with the price of basic commodities rising leaps and bounds in recent times, such as:
Rising inflation is a serious problem because of high levels of household debt. Bank Negara's Annual Report 2010 revealed that Malaysia's household debt at the end of 2010 was RM 581 billion or 76 per cent of GDP, thus giving us the dubious honour of having the second-highest level of household debt in Asia, after South Korea.
In addition, the Malaysian household debt service ratio stood at 47.8 per cent in 2010, meaning that nearly half of the average family's income goes to repaying debts. As a rule, banks would not lend money to those whose total servicing of loans exceeded one third of their income. In other words, we are spiralling into an indebted nation.
Besides giving aid to the people, the Federal Government must also implement a minimum wage. But even this is meaningless if the quantum is not indexed to the rate of inflation, as I had proposed in the DAP National Conference earlier this year. Only then can we dignify Malaysians by improving their standard of living and quality of life.
DAP therefore calls upon the Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak to prove his sincere commitment to helping the people by making the RM500 and RM100 welfare payments an annual program, in order to prove that he is not merely trying to "buy" his way to an election victory.
*Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary General & MP for Bagan