THE government’s response to my speech delivered on 15th December titled Debunking ETP: Widening Income Gap has failed to address the signifcant issues raised. As I had said, the ETP is not only an obsolete economic policy but is calculated to impoverish the nation even further by benefitting the rich minority at the expense of the poor majority.
Come 2020, seven to 8.3 million Malaysian citizens will be earning less than RM1,500 monthly and will be consigned to the urban poor category. This represents 51% of the nation’s workforce in 2020, as compared to 56% for 2009 which is a dismal increase of 5%. For all the fanfare and self-serving publicity extravaganza that came with the ETP unveiling, this indeed is a serious let down for the people.
An economic program that fails to substantially improve the income of the majority while actually increasing the number of the poorest citizens is scandalous, reckless and represents an utter dereliction of duty of the government. This is the central issue that must be addressed by the Prime Minister himself and this he has failed to do so. Sloganeering and spouting sound bites may be a good PR exercise but will not deflect from the main concerns raised in my speech.
For instance, the projected annual growth in wages of 3.6% from 2010 to 2020 as compared to the decade preceding it represents a mere increase of 2.6% while the rate of increase in cost of living for the same period will far exceed it. A Labour Market Survey of 2009 involving 24,000 employers and 1.3 million workers shows that 33.8% of these workers earn less than RM 700 montly. Extrapolated against the nation’s entire work force, it would be tantamount to 34% being below the poverty line. The projected figure of 3.6% is therefore not only marginal but misleading in that it fails to show the increase in real wages which is a standard indicator of economic growth.
Additionally, the projection that inflation will be around 2.8% annually till 2020 is also unrealilstic considering that the inflation rate for the last 12 months has been constantly above 3%. The target for achieving a per capita Gross National Income of RM 48,000 by 2020 will not be achieved if the inflation rate exceeeds 2.8% in the coming years.
If the average inflation rate till 2020 reaches 4% per annum, an estimated 7.6 million Malaysians will be earning a montly income of less than RM 1,500 by then, an increase of one million compared to 6.6 million for 2009. But if the average inflation rate reaches 6% per annum the number will rise to a staggering 8.3 million!
The most crucial issue that has been completely ignored is my statement that under the ETP the nation’s wealth will be increasingly appropriated by the rich at the expense of the poor who will be incrementally marginalized.
Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib has failed to challenge my analysis that the ratio of wages to the Gross National Income will shrink from 40% (for 2009) to 33% (for 2020). This is a matter of grave concern. Under the ETP, the elite, the families and cronies of those in power will continue to pillage and plunder the nation’s wealth while the vast majority of the people will continue to bear the cost of the self serving economic policies of a government which has no regard for accountability and transparency.
HEAD OF OPPOSITION
DEWAN RAKYAT MALAYSIA