The Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the large allocation of Budget 2022 for the Bumiputera communities is fair and called the criticism against it disheartening, adding that the detractors had cherry picked portions of the spending plan.
According to Malay Mail, he said the Bumiputera communities make up to 70% of the country’s population, but are still way behind the Chinese and Indian in equity ownership and median income, which means they require the most help.
He also said the Budget 2022 was formulated based on the “Keluarga Malaysia” spirit, which is supposed to promote inclusivity. He refuted claims that the budget is drafted from a racialist lens.
“Budget 2022 is formulated to embody this noble spirit, as well as the principle that no member of a family should be left behind.” Zafrul said.
“In fact, since I became Finance Minister, we at the Finance Ministry (MOF) have always crafted the annual budget based on needs, not race, religion or creed.”
“This is why, over the weeks since its tabling, it has been disheartening to see how some quarters of our society have cherry-picked portions of the speech to insinuate how the Budget prioritises the bumiputra community at the expense of the non-bumiputra beneficiaries.” he added.
The Budget 2022 is worth RM332.1 billion with over RM70 billion being spent for development to jump start the economy which had been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and to put money back into the pockets of low and middle income households.
However, the were criticisms that the government has allocated less than a tenth for ethnic minorities, with just RM300 million compared to the RM11.4 billion allocated for the ethnic majority communities.
Despite Bumiputera being the majority ethnic in the country, he said the dominant community has been left behind economically.
He added that if this community is continuously being leave behind, so will the country. If the dominant community thrive, so does the country.
As of 2018, Bumiputera equity ownership stood at 16.9%, which is far off the 30% target set by the previous administrations. This is the same reason that is often being used by the right wing leaders of the ruling coalition to justify their race-based affirmative actions.
However, analysts were of opinion that the low Bumiputera equity ownership was more a result of corruption and abuse than policy failure.
Nonetheless, Zafrul said in terms of absolute poverty, the Bumiputera account for 7.2% compared to Chinese at 1.4% and Indians at 4.8%.
While the median household income for the bumiputra was RM5,420, compared to RM7,391 for the Chinese, and RM5,981 for the Indians.
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