With Iraq war on, the multi-billion ringgit economic stimulus package which
had been held back for two months should be presented to Parliament without
any further delay together with government's economic contingency plan over
the war' economic fallouts as economists have lowered GDP growth this year
to 4% as compared to 6-6.5% in 2003 Budget
by Lim Kit Siang
With the launching of United States-led war against Iraq, the mult-billion
ringgit economic stimulus package which had been held back for two months
should be presented to Parliament without any further delay together with
the government's economic contingency plan over the war's economic fallouts.
Economists and research analysts have already lowered the GDP forecast for
this year by a full percentage point to 4 per cent, in contrast to the 6 -
6.5% GDP growth projection of Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir
Mohamad in his 2003 Budget presentation to Parliament in September last
This again is subject to the important qualification of a short and swift
war in Iraq, as a long and protracted war dragging into months instead of
days and weeks, coupled with a rise in incidents of terrorism and oil supply
disruptions, would cause even greater havoc to the Malaysian economy,
requiring a second economic stimulus package to avert economic disaster for
As the new 2003 economic stimulus package, which is reported to be larger
than the two economic stimulus packages in 2001, the RM3 billion package in
March and RM4.3 billion package in September, had been completed two months
ago, there should be no further delay in its presentation in Parliament.
The second Finance Minister, Datuk Jamaludin Jarjis had told foreign fund
managers and brokers on 21st January 2003 that the economic stimulus package
would be announced by Mahathir the following month, but its announcement had
been repeatedly delayed because of the looming war in Iraq.
It is unfortunate that the Auditor-General had failed to conduct a special
audit of the two economic stimulus packages in 2001 totalling RM7.3 billion,
and submit the findings to Parliament, as there had been an unusually high
incidence of abuse and misuse public funds and sheer wastage, so that the
same mistakes would not be repeated in the new economic stimulus package.
This is why the new economic stimulus package should be the subject of
parliamentary debate and scrutiny, both to uphold the principles of
financial accountability and parliamentary responsibility as well as to
ensure that good money are just not thrown away to enrich political cronies
at various levels of the government in the name of economic stimulus.
The parliamentary debate on the new economic stimulus package should be held
immediately after the debate on the Royal Address, which should end on
Tuesday now that tomorrow should be fully devoted to the debate on the
special motion on the US-led war on Iraq. The debate on the new economic
stimulus package should begin on Wednesday and the package itself presented
to Parliament on Tuesday.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National