There was something rather different, for me, about this year’s national budget.
I had never felt as disappointed as I was and am right now, when I “covered” the budget on Twitter the last two times.
LOLBudget came about because I thought some brevity was needed. The national budget tabling in Malaysia is taken so seriously and is often so predictable, that it was laughable. And I wanted some laughter because, by God, we need humour more than ever. Else we’d likely go mad in this current climate.
Budgets are serious things. But politicians take themselves far too seriously and so do most political and economical pundits. Yes, I mocked and jibed my way through LOLBudget but if it got people talking, conversing and thinking about the damn budget, I’d consider my playing the jester worth it.
See, before I started LOLBudgeting proper, someone Tweeted me, asking me what to expect. I answered “How much goodies (the government) will offer without bankrupting the nation.”
And the budget was full of so many sweeteners I swore my teeth would fall from rot.
Look, no one addressed the biggest elephant in the room: where was the money to fund all those handouts coming from? Emergency funds for small business, abolishing of school fees, bonuses and lots of incentives for civil servants…someone has to pay for that.
What was even more alarming was the income tax cut across the board…for big business. Malaysia in comparison to most other countries really doesn’t tax much. So even more discounts in the perhaps vain hope that we push domestic consumption and draw in more investments? You have got to be kidding me.
Am I an armchair economist now? No. I’m just a journalist. A journalist who wonders how the government is going to make good on its promises especially when they involve spending a lot of money I’m not sure we have.
What bothers me is the lack of transparency in spending, allocations, tendering etc. The closest we come to openness is the annual accountant-general’s report. The man must cry himself to sleep at night.
I wanted answers to the problem that is our economy. But all we Malaysians got were promises of more sweeties.
But it’s not about me, is it? It’s about gaining the popular votes so instead of doing the right but unpopular thing, we get the popular measures that in the big picture scheme of things are really not what we need.
And that is nothing to laugh about.