The Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) has expressed concerns that Budget 2019 may sideline the bumiputera, fishermen and farmers.
Its chief executive officer Ahmad Yazid Othman (above) said while MTEM lauds the government's focus on the B40 community, the majority of which are Malays, there were still weaknesses.
"There are still several weaknesses for certain groups especially the rural folk, fishermen and farmers.
"MTEM disagrees with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng's statement that the best government is one that does not involve itself in business as it appears to show his intention to have the government give up its stake its businesses.
"If that happens, one of the most effective tool for bumiputera economic progress would be lost forever," he said in a press statement.
Yazid added that MTEM was also concerned by what he described as the "small" allocation for the Bumiputera Economic Agenda despite saying it was also positive for the bumiputera.
"The Bumiputera Economic Agenda received just RM3.6 billion from the RM314.5 billion under Budget 2019.
"Budget 2019 can be considered positive for the bumiputera as many bumiputera will receive positive benefits from the budget which focuses on the B40 group.
"However, MTEM is concerned that the Bumiputera Economic Agenda will not be given enough attention for entrepreneurs and a majority will still rely on procurement from the government," he said.
Yazid also lamented that the government had not given sufficient attention to the issue of food security, an issue which his organisation had championed with advocacy group Padi Rescue.
"The allocation provided by the government for the agriculture and fisheries sector is focussed on the development of the industry such as research for seeds, automation and industrial training which will not directly benefit farmers and fishermen.
"Even though the government has good intentions, the welfare of farmers and fishermen need immediate attention through a social safety net," he said.
'Not a priority'
He noted that the government had also decided not to continue with the RM200 cash aid for farmers waiting for the harvest season.
"Clearly, agriculture and fisheries are not a priority for the government.
"It is still not too late for the government to take remedial action on its direction which has gone off track in terms of bumiputera, fishermen and farmers' interest.
"There are many positives in Budget 2019 but it is hoped that the people will not need to wait until Budget 2020 for a more perfect budget," he said.
Editor's Note: Malaysiakini had previously run a story based on MTEM's statement yesterday but it was retracted and the council sent a revised version today.