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Budget 2024, a sign that we need a full-time finance minister

While it is the biggest budget in Malaysia's history, no one seems to have gotten anything.

Nehru Sathiamoorthy
3 minute read

Considering that the 2024 budget is the most expensive budget in Malaysia’s history, it is startling to realise how forgettable it is.

No one in the country is saying that they appreciate it. Neither the working class nor the middle class, entrepreneurs, youths, innovators, exporters, developers, students, professionals, retirees, businesspeople, athletes, artists – or anyone, as a matter of fact – have come out to thank the government for coming up with a budget that is sensitive to their needs.

Personally, the only thing that I remember from this budget is that it decided to float the price of chicken and eggs. Mydin’s boss has come out to applaud the idea, but I am going to reserve my judgment. I just hope that it doesn’t cause any problems. We already have a problem with rice. If we also have a problem with chicken and eggs, I don’t know what else is going to be left on the plate.

Thinking that it might perhaps be just me who found this budget insipid because I didn't understand the subject well enough to see the possibilities and potentials hidden in it, I decided not to come up with any conclusions about the budget, until I heard what the analysts, economists and business community had to say about it.

Judging from the reports, their analysis seems to confirm my initial impression of the budget. The reports that are in praise of the budget are far fewer than the ones that criticise it, and the reports that are critical of it are far more vocal than those that are in praise of it. This is indeed a severely underwhelming budget considering its cost.

Hearing this budget reminded me of Khairy Jamaluddin calling Anwar Ibrahim a part-time finance minister a few weeks ago.

Considering how the finance ministry has spent so much and got us so little makes me believe that perhaps it is time that Anwar gives up the finance portfolio to somebody who can give it their full-time attention.

I think it goes without saying that matters related to finance should be handled by someone who goes to the office every day to keep track of the money. When you are dealing with money, everybody involved needs to know that there is somebody at the top who is looking through all of your accounting, because there is somebody above them who is looking through all of their accounting, and this chain of supervision goes on to the very top of the organisation chart.

If people feel that nobody is really going to look through their accounting because the finance minister at the top of the chain of command is busy doing other things, and the prime minister is not going to bother about the finance minister not being focused on his job because the prime minister is also the finance minister, then people will start getting careless or lackadaisical about their accounts.

You know that people might be getting careless and lackadaisical about their accounts when you end up paying an arm and a leg, but all you get is chicken feed.

That the finance ministry has come up with the biggest budget in the history of the country, without anybody in the country seeming to get anything, is a clear sign that we need a full-time and proper finance minister.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.