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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Najib’s ‘artful manipulation’ of the GDP

The late release of the Auditor-General's Report is probably because 'there are not so many intelligent people' on the government front benches.

COMMENT

It is true there is no law that demands the Auditor-General’s Report be given alongside budget documents.

But in the interest of good governance and accountability which any responsible government pledges itself to, the AG’s Report must be expeditiously supplied to lawmakers.

Otherwise, it gives rise to a cause for concern that the delay is an attempt to shorten a critical assessment of the spending habits of government agencies.

Lawmakers are guided by a higher sense of propriety, responsibility and accountability that demands they operate beyond the technical confines of written rules.

So it is correct and proper when lawmakers demand to see the AG Report that, by convention, is provided alongside budget documents.

In my experience as an assemblyman in Pahang, the AG’s Report came along with the budget documents.

This is necessary for legislators who will then go through the spending habits of institutions of government and will ensure that matters are debated as they should be.

As such the AG’s Report has acquired the status of almost an absolutely necessary addendum for the purpose of intelligent and responsible analysis of government spending habits.

I have found them necessary to provide justification or criticisms on the spending habits of the government.

GDP, a trick

My assumption for the delay is probably because there are not so many intelligent people on the government front benches.

They don’t see the AG’s Report as crucial for a healthy debate in our Parliament.

It is in these documents that we find most justifications for the criticisms directed at deficit spending and of government debt.

By the way, the claim that 2012 debt is within tolerance limits is simply the result of artful manipulation of the 2012 GDP figures.

When Prime Minister and Finance Minister Najib Tun Razak announced that our (Gross Domestic Product) will grow by five to six percent, as a percentage or proportion, the 2012 debt will indeed remain within our psychological barrier.

It enabled Najib to state that our debt to GDP ratio is good.

But in terms of absolute numbers, on the other hand, the debt to GDP ratio is much bigger than last year’s.

So, the declaration that the economy will grow by five to six percent was necessary so as to keep the proportion of debt to GDP acceptable. It was just a trick.

The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman and a FMT columnist. This is an excerpt from his blog sakmongkolak47.

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