Najib dismisses Pakatan promises as far-fetched
UPDATED @ 12:26:42 PM 29-05-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, May 29 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak took aim at the opposition Pakatan Rakyat’s economic proposals today, saying that they were populist promises designed to win power.
Najib said that proposals like abolishing the student loan scheme PTPTN costing RM45 billion and a RM4,000 minimum wage policy were not realistic.
“It doesn’t take an economist to see that these promises are far-fetched,” he said in a Q&A session at the Invest Malaysia conference.
“They have no intention of implementing them and these promises were made to get them voted into office.”
Najib (picture) said his administration did not take a “populist” approach and was more credible in crafting its policies.
“We have clarity of vision and a credible programme and roadmap to be a fully developed high-income nation,” he said when asked why would he be deserving of a strong mandate in the coming polls.
He said a strong mandate was important to not derail the transformation agenda.
Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat have been at odds over economic policies with the opposition promising to push for higher minimum wages and more fuel subsidies to cope with the rising cost of living.
The abolishment of the student loan scheme in particular could prove to be a strong vote-getter for the federal opposition given that many recent graduates find themselves saddled with debt and young adults make up the bulk of newly registered voters and could be a swing factor in the election.
The Najib administration has said that the country would not be able to afford additional fuel subsidies and the cost of abolishing student loans and the unpopular toll concessions.
It however has also been perceived as indulging in populist moves of its own such as suspending subsidy rationalising initiatives and direct cash transfers under the BR1M programme.
It also introduced a minimum wage policy earlier this month set at RM900 in Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak despite some criticism that it could cause the labour market to become more rigid.