Barisan Nasional’s Budget 2016 leaves much to be desired, as we are seeing nothing but a rehashed fiscal strategy from Najib Razak’s first year as Prime Minister.
The middle income continues to be left out in the cold, and although the wealthy will face higher taxes, the administration has done nothing about corporations, meanwhile the lower income is still burdened by GST as the rest of us.
That said, what is most worrying about Budget 2016 is the RM1.4 billion decrease in Higher Education budget. The government will justify by saying that the slash is in line with its Higher Education Blueprint, which seeks to encourage self-funding by Universities. However, the large amount slashed does nothing to help this cause given that the Blueprint has only been announced this year and the Universities has only had several months to come to terms with it.
The development expenditure for the Higher Education budget is also at its lowest since Najib became Prime Minister, and at 12.04% of the total budget it is a marked decrease from the 34.55% of the total allocated budget in 2010.
It is well known that the quality of our local higher education institution has been on a decline, even though the country itself is brimming with talent. The brain drain issue is well documented, and while the government is supposed to inspire greater confidence in the IPTAs, the budget announcement has in fact dampened the mood.
Such inconsideration will definitely raise plenty of issues. Will the Universities take a hit with less enrollment? Will researches be affected? Will students receive less attention given that Universities will be a lot more focused in acquiring funds?
Places in Universities have been reduced for two consecutive years while students who qualify to go to Universities are rising. Thus, students who do not get a place or relevant course in public Universities end up in private Universities and Colleges and rely on PTPTN loans. Yet PTPTN loans have been cut between 15 to 25 percent.
Furthermore this comes on top of recent issues with regard to MARA and JPA scholarships which has seen policies being altered mid-stream, number of scholars trimmed down excessively and welfare of students being ignored almost totally.
All of these raises the question on whether the government has given up on higher education altogether and would rather gamble on the fate of the future generation in order close the financial potholes caused by Najib Razak’s administration.
Budget 2016 is nothing but a sign of Najib’s selfishness and incompetence. With an obvious focus to fish for rural votes, Barisan Nasional has effectively declared war on the middle class.