Monday, October 23, 2023

PTD Mafia budget: Civil service bonus, No opex rationalisation

Back in March 2021, the parent blog Another Brick in the Wall wrote of the self serving PTD Mafia in the civil service. The link here need a VPN to access.

Since Annuar Musa left the Ministry, the blog remained blocked by MCMC under the block-happy Fahmi Fadzil and still serving the former Minister's self serving interest. Latest victims are  Nuclearbursaman and Corporate Secret blogs and portals. 

Does any critic of MCMC or civil service, especially the PTD, these days will mean online writers to suffer their wrath?

This issue is raised because the current budget 2024, which is going through debate in Parliament, came off below the pre-budget expectation and its neither here nor there economic management to reform and prepare the nation to face the current economic storm. 

Is this a "no change" budget dictated by the PTD Mafia upon the Prime Minister aka Minister of Finance? 

There have been murmurs that recommendations and drastic measures to address the current fiscal problems from various parties including from Rafizi, and various private and advisory outfits are being ignored by the Ministry of Finance.

The suspicion is it could be assumed that the Treasury Secretary General, Dato Johan Merican imposing his will on the budget. It may not be true.

Rumour going around is the PTD is sabotaging him to protest Anwar's appointment for placing someone junior in the PTD pecking order to jump the queue. 

The situation is such that endless rumours and poison pen letters or messages have been spreading of Johan. His directives ignored or even brushed off as stupid by his underlings. 

He faced no bigger opposition than his own Deputy who was later reassigned and glamourised as first woman head for the Royal Custom. 

The hint of PTD dictated budget is the expansionary budget which is the largest at a time Unity Government is concerned with the fiscal constraints and seeking to reducing subsidy, particularly fuel subsidy and specfically announced is largely smuggled diesel.  

The budget should be a balance between austerity and reforming the economic structure to encourage future growth, however, Anwar announced bonus for civil servants and promise to review the 10-year old civil service pay package. 

Doubt there is a time table for salary revision for every 10 years, but inflationary pressure may have given CUEPAC justification for such demand. 

However, it is not the best of time to do so when poverty stricken padi farmers have not had a padi revision on the price ceiling for 25 years and recent padi price rise curtailed through price fixing by cartels of millers.

Deep state

Following the budget debate in Parliament, it can only be expected from the opposition to ignore the fiscal constraints and raising issue on the unavoidable impact of subsidy reduction on inflation and cost of living. 

Strangely, MOF issued a statement announcing a 27-manned Budget 2024 Team established to monitor the views on Social Media. They justified it as getting feedback, listening to criticism and improving the Budget rollout. 

They should be getting expert opinions than the largely self serving or the what's in it for moi tendency of common folks' opinions on economic issues. Is it the infamous civil service trick up the sleeve to resist change by misinforming the PM @ MOF with negative feedback on the necessary fiscal reform and dissuade him from his reform plan?

In the political circle, talk is there is unhappiness with the manner Anwar is refusing to heed advise and rely solely from the civil servants. 

Apparently Anwar made a pact with the KSN upon his appointment as PM that all Ministry private secretaries or SUSK will be from the PTD. It is practically giving PTD absolute control in determining the official letters acceptable to be signed by Ministers.  

The restlessness is that the fall of Putrajaya seat to PN and early voters trend at by-elections in favour of PN is an indication civil servants are pro-opposition. 

The concern is a planned coup announced by Hadi Awang means that there is a conspiracy in the work against the national political leadership. Mahathir is now an ally of PAS and it is long the talk that Daim and Mahathir intend to topple Anwar by October or the latest within next 6 months. 

The budget seemed to be a double edge sword. If it had been a major fiscal reform, inflation and rising prices would be detrimental to the Anwar's unity government popularity. 

On the other hand, the expansionary budget is not received well by the market as ringgit weakened to 25 year low today at 4.76 and stock market is struggling with listless trading and low prices. 

Is there a sabotage through the financial market by the monopolist? 

Neither here nor there

The budget falls short in many aspects and did not turn out as it was drummed up to be. It is not giving any sense of confidence to both consumers and businesses of the measures taken. 

There was also not much support from the local media. It gave a rather token coverage. Bloomberg seemed to ignore Anwar's first budget of his own as PM.

There seem to be no business plan to grow the economy. An undercurrent sense of helplessness is sinking in within the business community 

Ringgit weakening is indicative of the possibility money is flowing out of the country, export proceeds not returning and migration. It is said that some 1.8 million of Malaysian professionals migrated and more seeking employment abroad. 
The suspicion is the deepstate is still in communication and collaborating with Anwar's old nemesis to potray him as looking increasingly helpless and the narrative he is all talk only. 

That is all politics, but what will happen to the economy and peoples' livelihood if political interest ignores the economic realities grappling the country?          

Increasingly, the latest development of MP for Kuala Kangsar and talk of more from PPBM and PAS will announced open support for Anwar but without leaving their party could be a decoy to lull Anwar into a false sense of comfort. 

Anwar needs help and a major cabinet reshuffling is needed. He has to push aside partisan sentiment and get capable people like Johari Gani on board his economic team. His PKR newbie cabinet members fell short and lack experiance for crisis management.

It is time for a focus and decisive leadership. Keep politics at bay. That was the reason for Unity Government, isn't it?

Thick as Brick

No comments:

My Say