The government did not propose salary increments for civil servants in the 2023 budget as this could lead to a large budget deficit, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said today.
Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said a high budget deficit could dampen investors' confidence in the country.
"Our problem now is, (we have) debt of RM1.5 trillion with (a current) deficit of 5.6%.
"If we increase salaries, our budget deficit may rise to 6.5% – nobody will come and invest in our country because they will have no confidence that we have a strong political will to manage the country well," he said in Putrajaya today in response to Cuepacs' reaction to the budget.
Cuepacs president Adnan Mat said the government had shown no commitment to reevaluating the new public service remuneration system in order to increase salaries in Budget 2023.
Anwar urged Cuepacs to be patient, saying the government’s priority now was to help the poorer groups.
"Just be patient for a while. Is it not important to try to help the hardcore poor who suffer more that the regular workers?
"Life is also hard for the padi farmers, fishermen and the hardcore poor... they are also struggling to make ends meet," he said.
Anwar tabled the national budget for 2023 last Friday with a total allocation of RM388.1 billion, comprising RM289.1 billion for operating expenditure and RM99 billion for development expenditure, including RM2 billion as contingency savings.
Under the budget, the government also agreed to give special Aidilfitri assistance of RM700 to all civil servants of Grade 56 and below including those on a contract basis, and RM350 to pensioners.