UPDATED 2.53PM | GE14 | The government has to emphasise prospering the economy because it is linked to improving the wellbeing of the people, said Najib Abdul Razak.
The caretaker prime minister said driving the economy meant garnering revenue and funds, and with the additional revenue and funds, the government could distribute more aid to the people.
“Only then can we move on to boosting the well-being of the people,” he said at a meet-the-people session at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre in Langkawi today.
“If we do something that will eventually jeopardise the economy, today or in the future, the people are the ones who will face the dire consequences,” he said.
Kedah caretaker menteri besar Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah was also present at the event.
The caretaker prime minister said promising and then implementing something that could harm the country’s economy could have a detrimental effect on the people.
He cited the example of the abolition of road toll collection promised in the opposition Pakatan Harapan election manifesto and said that implementing the proposal would require compensation payment amounting to RM380 billion.
Najib said it was ironic that the opposition, now led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was proposing the abolition of toll when it was the former prime minister himself who had imposed toll collection in the first place.
“I have reduced toll collection during my administration while he (Dr Mahathir) had increased it. Now, he wants to abolish toll. Where can you get the RM380 billion compensation to be paid? It does not make sense, it is not rational,” he said.
He said that it was for this reason that none of the international rating agencies had given a positive rating to the opposition manifesto and, in fact, they said it was unrealistic and would jeopardise the country’s economy.
"I am not saying this. This is what the international bodies, the rating agencies are saying. They say the manifesto promise cannot be implemented,” he said, citing the World Bank and Bloomberg.
Najib said that after the Barisan Nasional launched its manifesto on April 7, all quarters including international bodies said the manifesto promises could be implemented.
"That is why I announced many things that night. The biggest response came following the announcement on doubling the BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid) payment. The people gave a standing ovation,” he said.
He said the increase in the BR1M aid was made because of the government’s efficiency under the leadership of the BN government in managing the national economy.
The caretaker prime minister said the nation’s economy was growing because the country’s policies provided for high economic growth, for example, 5.9 percent last year.
He also said that the national debt had contracted to 50.8 percent of the gross domestic product, but had hit 103 percent of GDP during Dr Mahathir’s administration.
The caretaker prime minister said the payment of BR1M was not a BN political weapon but a principle of sharing among the people the nation’s wealth derived from revenue through taxation or oil resources.
"We introduced BR1M to help the people. Everyone receives it, those who support the BN and those who do not. We do not want anyone to say that BR1M is our political weapon.
"We collect revenue through the taxation of people who buy goods, from corporate taxes and from oil resources, and we share the wealth with the people. What’s wrong with that? We give to the people for their convenience,” he said.
Najib said the additional BR1M amount would come in handy for Aidilfitri purchases in June.
Touching on the development of Langkawi, he said the island could not be developed by any one individual but through the authority vested in UMNO and the BN.
"UMNO and the BN back me, and I can bring about change in Langkawi and the country. We are one team. Langkawi will enjoy a better future,” he said.