Political Public Fund Managers


Update 1: The advertisement below lists the criteria for the RM180 million fund

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There has to be a better way to manage our limited resources and public funds, right?

(How true! Sometime we forget that the money we get is actually from our own pockets and to make things worse, some of it ends up in the politicians’ pockets as well. Image source: http://www.sodahead.com)

First read this:-

MIC President Datuk Seri G. Palanivel has been given the task of managing a RM180mil special government allocation meant to help Indian entrepreneurs. The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the decision for him to take charge of small and medium enterprise (SME) projects for Indians was made by the Cabinet last week.

“The RM180mil fund is intended to assist all segments of Indian entrepreneurs, including micro-enterprises,” Palanivel told a press conference yesterday after handing out cheques to recipients of Community Builders Foundation (CBF) pre-schoolers aid. He said his responsibility would be to monitor the loan applications as well as engage with the public.

“This is to ensure that genuine and deserving Indian entrepreneurs have access to finance to grow their business,” he said, adding that those interested to apply should contact SME Corporation Malaysia.

(Source)

In 2010, as part of reforms to be implemented by the Najib’s Administration, the Government introduced the Transformation Programme to address 7 key areas concerning the people of the country. They should have added one more – Elimination of Unwanted Political Hands on Tax-Payers Money.

I know it is not the first time we are reading these kind of nonsense in the papers but one need to ask why in the world, the Government want to trust millions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money to a political party to “manage it” when we already have a more effective of doing it by using the various departments of the Government? How can one be held accountable for the money managed? Yes, one may ask what’s new in Malaysia – the abuse of tax-payers funds have been going on for many, many years now. True I say but then again, for how long we want to allow this to go on where public funds somehow ends up as political party’s personal fund.

Same case here with the RM180 million fund – no doubt the final handling of the fund may be done via SME Corp (or some agencies or NGOs who has the proper resources, logistics and professional fund managers) but why the need for middle man for the so-call management of the funds? If it is an act of public relationship (in view of the general elections – i.e. to show that MIC is relevant and takes care of the community), how certain we are that:-

  1. All of the funds allocated by the Government will end up in real entrepreneurs’ pockets and not siphoned off under the disguise of administration charges and commission or phony entrepreneurs or worse – as personal funds for the up-coming elections and shopping? Remember that all these money comes from the tax-payers fund and must be held accountable for every cents used; AND
  2. Whether all the funds will be disbursed regardless of the political stand of those who need the funds? We have heard cases in the past where opposition supporters have been denied to certain benefits even though they are entitled to. With MIC behind the manager’s seat, will they be professional enough to ensure dirty politics and political affiliations biasness stays out from the management of the funds?

This is because allegations of abuse of public funds by politicians or the manner in which the said money was disbursed have surfaced before:-

PKR today claimed that public money meant to fund activities of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has been channelled to pay for the activities of Wanita Umno . PKR Wanita chief Zuraidah Kamaruddin today said the funds were channelled to the Council of Women and Family Development under the ministry.

The council was established in 2001 during the tenure of Shahrizat Abdul Jalil as its minister. Shahrizat is also the Wanita Umno chief. According to Zuraidah, the council was initially made up of women state executive council (exco) members nationally. But she claimed that over time the membership of the council has been hijacked by Wanita Umno.

(Source)

And;

The government has promised millions of ringgit to upgrade Tamil schools in the country but one question still remains. Would the millions really be spent on the reconstruction of these schools or would it go to crony contractors; or be channeled back to the government? The lack of transparency in releasing the funds had raised heckles from non-governmental organisations, who wanted a system to streamline funds to ensure it reached the “target” group fast.

He said going by these estimates, in actual fact the government would only complete work amounting to RM33 million out of the RM100 million set aside under the 2012 Budget. “This is because the relevant authorities especially JKR has quoted three-fold prices. While work will be done for RM35 million, the remainder of the allocation will either go back to the government or into the pockets of contractors or cronies given the contracts,” he added.

(Source)

And whilst the “how” and “who” is being worked out, there is another question need to be considered – how and when MIC (or any other political party) will be involved in the management of the funds? Are they going to be the decision makers on who will get what? Are they going to be just managers on paper (for publicity sake) but the real work will be done by professional fund managers?

I am not accusing anything here but we want to know how MIC as the “managers of the fund” is going to ensure that the tax-payers money will be used for the right reasons and for the right persons. This is because whilst the objective and the creation of the RM180 million special fund is welcomed but the manner it will be disbursed and monitored may leave rooms for abuse and for that, we need to ask if we have the best practices in place to manage and deal with public funds? Have we addressed the shortcomings, plugged the leakages and improve on the end delivery in accordance to the objectives that it was intended to? And we should start by not allowing any politicians from one side of the political divide managing these public funds.

And whilst we have been talking about the management of existing funds, Rafizi Ramli from PKR raised another interesting point – where does the Government gets all the money for these ad-hoc funds? Certainly some of these ad-hoc funds has not been budgeted for in the last Budget presentation in the Parliament so where does these allocations are coming from?-

PKR’s Rafizi Ramli today slammed the prime minister for his heavy “vote-buying” spending of RM5.77 billion, saying that the money comes from taxpayers. Rafizi said the loss of yearly revenue from Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) proposed car tax cuts would be eclipsed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s unplanned spending.

“(T)he total sweets simply used by the prime minister in just the first six months (of this year) to buy the people’s votes is RM5.77 billion,” said Rafizi at a press conference today. He based his calculations by adding up the RM2.2 billion civil service bonus recently announced and various “one-off” spending by Najib’s administration which he claimed had reached RM3.57 billion. Under the RM3.57 billion “unplanned spending”, he gave examples of the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M), Bantuan Kembali Ke Sekolah 1 Malaysia and Bantuan Buku 1 Malaysia. He said these schemes respectively cost the government RM2.6 billion, RM530 million and RM260 million.

He also referred to “various schemes to buy votes under the 1 Malaysia brand, and various announcements of “instant noodle projects” throughout the Jelajah Janji Ditepati (Promises Fulfilled Tour) estimated to reach RM180 million.”

(Source)

Considering the amount of money being spent on ad-hoc funds and being passed into the hands of politicians to manage the said fund, we are left to wonder when this nonsense will stop especially when same group of people who have doing this nonsense are bent on bringing in 2 pandas and pay millions for their up-keeping (for more interesting insight, read this as well – “15 Silliest Uses of Taxpayers Money“). We need more control and we need it to be done on an urgent basis before we end up bankrupting the country with unnecessary expenses and leakages of public funds.

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Case for PR’s 100 Day Plan


(Warning: Long post ahead)

(PR is making it case to the general public that it can make a positive difference if it becomes the Government but we need a more convincing case. Image source: http://wargamarhaen.blogspot.com)

Interesting topic for the beginning of the year…

Well, it is in our best interest (no matter which side of the politics we may be) to know what the opposition intends to do if they come in power – although the chances of that happening in recent months is almost nil, no thanks to the Oppositions shooting themselves in their foot numerous times in the last 4 years (but who knows what can happen in the next few years).

Last year (although it seems too late), the Opposition came out with it’s “Change now, Save Malaysia” proposition and listed a list of items that the Opposition will do in the first 100 days if it is voted into power.

During Sunday’s convention here, Pakatan distributed its “Change now, save Malaysia” pamphlets detailing the CPF agenda to adopt “pro-rakyat” administrative principles if it becomes the federal government.

Among the policies are to free national institutions from political interference and corruption; ensure fair economic distribution of wealth; empower the people; strengthen the educational institution and return autonomy to Sabah and Sarawak.

The “100-Days Pakatan Rakyat” programme, which would be implemented during the first three months of Pakatan being in power, includes abolishing the Internal Security Act, reducing subsidies for the private sector, giving a RM500 monthly increment for teachers and increasing oil royalties by 20% for Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Kelantan.

(Source)

And it did not take long for BN to rubbish PR’s 100 days incentives:-

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has lambasted the Pakatan Rakyat’s 100-day reform plan, unveiled last month, describing it as populist and irresponsible.

He said the plan was unrealistic because it did not state the source of funds to finance the undertaking.

“In fact, it won’t take that long; in just two years, according to our estimates, our country will become like Greece if the plan is implemented without regard to the country’s means to implement it,” he said at the monthly gathering of the Prime Minister’s Department, here, Monday.

(Source)

Never mind if Najib stayed cleared of other part of PR’s proposition like reform of the main national government institutions and abolishment of ISA and only focused on the proposed expenditure of the PR’s proposition and at the same time, plays the fear of the country going bankrupt like the country of Greece (hmm, now where did I hear that?).

Najib said “the plan was unrealistic because it did not state the source of funds to finance the undertaking”. In other words, this may imply that PR may be making plans for the expenditure BEFORE finalizing the source of income to fund the said expenditures. Something that well spinned in the mainstream media but let’s give the benefit of the doubt – after all, PR have yet to prove themselves and many still doubt their ability to able to run the country better than BN.

BN’s Yearly Budget

So, before we even come to PR’s 100 day plan proper and in detail, let’s look at BN side of view. After all, they have been presenting national budget and balancing between national expenditure and income on a yearly basis.

In 2010, Najib in presenting the 2010 Budget themed “1Malaysia, Together We Prosper” amounting to RM191.5 billion with RM138.3 billion or 72.2 per cent for operating expenditure and RM53.2 billion or 27.8 per cent for development expenditure. Of course, Najib infused the budget presentation with mega projects including the insane 100 story tower which then lead to many thinking that public funds is going to be used for the construction or in most cases, bailout.

And we are only talking about budgets. What about the actual expenditures? Tony Pua of PR made this observation:-

We had in fact applauded the Government’s decision to reduce operating expenditure by a significant 13.7% from RM160.2 billion in 2009 to a budgeted RM138.3 billion.

However, in the Budget announcement today, it has been announced that the Government’s operating expenditure is expected to hit RM152.2 billion, or a massive RM13.9 billion (10.1%) over budget.

This clearly demonstrates the government’s inability to impose financial discipline on its expenditure to ensure that the country’s financial objectives are met. It is also not the first year the Government has overspent its budget. In fact, the Government has consistently overspent its budget by at least 5% as far back as 2000, with the worst year being in 2008 when the budget was exceeded by 17.2%.

Now if you think about it, the Government when presenting the yearly budget would have matched the expected income to be collected against the budgeted expenditure. Certainly it cannot be a deficit budget – no enough cash to cover the expenses, so how to make up for the difference? More debts?

Mismatch of Budget & Actual

Presentation of a sound budget is one thing but the actual expenditure is another. If the Government had spent more than what was budgeted, then where is the source of funds to finance the additional expenses? How did Najib justify the source of income when the expenses went overboard as compared to the yearly budget and mind you, the Government has been overspending for the last 10 years?

But why the increased expenditure in the first place? Is it because the Government had under estimated the actual cost of operating and therefore under estimate the amount in their yearly budgets (for the last 10 years)? Or is it because there has been mismanagement of public funds and poor management of resources? Or a combination of both?

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is still studying the Auditor-General’s Report 2009 and does not dismiss the possibility of opening more investigation papers based on the report

A newspaper report had quoted the Auditor-General’s Report as mentioning that the Defence Ministry had spent RM300,000 on buying luxury items for the VVIP room, including RM95,880 on wallpaper, by using an allocation from the First Economic Stimulus Package.

(Source)

And it only gets more absurd:-

Who in their right mind would pay RM42,320 for a laptop?

Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara Balik Pulau in Penang not only paid the price but bought two units of the same brand – Acer Aspire-5052ANWXMI, at a whopping price of RM84,640, said the Auditor-General’s Report.

In addition, the college purchased 450 units of computer CAD with network card at RM3.45mil for 12 labs. Each 19-inch monitor costs RM8,500 while a 17-inch monitor costs RM7,500.

(Source)

And

“The ministry signed a contract for the supply of 2.7 million metres of cloth worth RM27.54 million from December 2006 to November 2009.

“They spent RM7.01 million for the service of sewing 240,000 sets of uniforms for the period of April 2007 till March 2010,” said Ambrin.

He added that 2.7 million metres of cloth could produce 600,000 sets of uniforms but since only 240,000 were required, Rela has an excess of RM16.52 million worth of unused cloth.

(Source)

So, whilst BN may rubbish PR’s propositions as unrealistic, what about the leakages and mismanagement of the current financial affair by BN themselves? Let’s come back to PR’s 100 days proposition.

PR’s Propositions

PR in their “Change now, Save Malaysia” proposition summarized the followings to be done within the first 100 days after it comes into power:-

1. Reform the main national institutions of government, such as the Election Commission, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Malaysian Royal Police Force to introduce transparency and restore accountability of government.

2. Abolish the Internal Security Act.

3. Direct Khazanah Berhad, the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and all other government bodies that own highway concessions to complete the transference of such highway assets to the government with the purpose of abolishing tolls.

4. Change the structure of national subsidies by reducing corporate sector subsidies (such as the gas subsidies of RM19 billion to independent power producers) and transferring these savings toward subsidies for the rakyat.

5. Recognise the roles and contributions of public servants by re-evaluating the salary structures; starting with an increase in teachers’ allowances by RM500 per teacher per month as a recognition of the importance of their role as educators in nation building.

6. Restoring all private water concessions to the government, making water a public asset of the rakyat.

7. Deploy free Wi-Fi internet services to all Malaysians in the urban and semi-urban areas.

8. Dissolve Felda Plantations to redistribute its estate lands to the second and third generation of Felda settlers.

9. Increase oil royalties to Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Kelantan to 20%.

10. Set up a Royal Commission to comprehensively resolve the problems of illegal immigration and citizenship in Sabah.

And mindful, the above is a proposed act within 100 days after PR forms the next Government (of course, discounting the days wasted on internal fighting as to who get which portfolio in the new Government which may be long and tiring).

Some of the above proposal may or may not be realistic at that point of time whilst others may not easy to be achieved within the first 100 days (it is going to take major and drastic actions on part of the new Government to even start to reform the Election Commission, the MACC, the AG’s Chambers and the Malaysian Royal Police Force).

PR published the “Orange Book” in December 2010 which further explains their Common Policy Platform and the 100 days initiatives and in the book, listed some rather interesting statistics of the country under BN, namely:-

  • 12 years in a row of budget deficits for Malaysia
  • 10 years in a row, that Malaysia has failed to achieve its economic growth targets
  • Malaysia fell 26 spots in the institutional integrity ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report conducted by the World Economic Forum from 2007 to 2009.
  • 34% of Malaysian workers (about 4 million people) are paid less than RM700 a month, which is below the poverty line.
  • 62% of the RM39 billion paid in subsidies and compensation each year are given to corporations (IPPs, highway concessions etc), and not to the rakyat
  • RM4 billion allocated for food subsidies (sugar, wheat, rice), which UMNO / BN is trying to revoke. RM19 billion worth of gas subsidies are given to independent power producers and RM4 billion is given to highway concessionaires each year
  • RM19 billion worth of gas subsidies are given to independent power producers each year, compared to RM 11 billion worth of petrol subsides for the rakyat – now at risk of being revoked for the rakyat, but not for the corporations – rakyat to suffer, while these corporations will continue to enjoy special big profits.

That is however not to say that BN led Government have not recognized the same problems that PR has listed down rather “eagerly” in the Orange Book and I am pretty sure that mitigation actions have been put in place to improve / reform / etc but the fact that there has been a continued mismanagement of the petroleum money and the huge compensation / subsidies paid for IPP and toll concessionaires has not been acceptable to most of us.

Is it true that the PR propositions are unrealistic due to no evidence of income as claimed by Najib? The Orange Book does not specifically mention the source of income for the 100 days initiatives but we can see where PR is coming from.

PR in December 2010 clarified:-

Oleh itu, Pakatan Rakyat berhasrat untuk memperkenalkan imbuhan khas pendidik sebanyak RM500 kepada semua pegawai dan guru yang bertanggungjawab di dalam sistem pendidikan kita.

Ini akan menelan belanja RM3.2 bilion setahun. Jumlah ini adalah kecil jika dibandingkan dengan pembaziran-pembaziran lain yang kini berleluasa di bawah UMNO/Barisan Nasional.

Kos perbelanjaan semua lawatan Perdana Menteri ke luar negara setakat ini sebanyak RM8.7 juta boleh menanggung imbuhan bagi 1,450 orang guru. Bayaran kepada APCO sebanyak RM77 juta bagi tahun 2009 boleh menampung imbuhan bagi 12,800 orang guru iaitu keseluruhan tenaga kerja yang membangunkan profesionalisme keguruan. Pembaziran UMNO/Barisan Nasional sebanyak RM131 juta bagi menampung perbelanjaan perunding dan kos operasi PEMANDU bagi tahun 2010 boleh membayar imbuhan bagi 21,833 lagi orang guru, iaitu hampir keseluruhan tenaga kerja kementerian.

Ini belum lagi pembaziran-pembaziran mega seperti subsidi gas sebanyak RM19 bilion kepada sektor korporat dan kroni, kos menyelamatkan kroni yang melibatkan Empangan Bakun sebanyak RM6 bilion dan ketirisan akibat rasuah yang dianggarkan mencecah RM28 bilion setiap tahun.

(Source)

Loosely translated – PR proposed RM500 as an additional allowance for teachers and the total money to be spent on this is expected to be RM3.2 billion. PR expects to pay for this from the savings from other unnecessary expenses like RM8.7 million from PM’s foreign visits expense, RM77 million from APCO consultancy fees, RM131 million from PEMANDU expenditures, RM19 billion from gas subsidy, RM6 billion from Bakun bailout and RM28 billion from corruption leakages.

So, I think we should not be too quick to call PR’s 100 days propositions as unrealistic as there are merits to the facts presented by them. It may be a populist measure or an unrealistic financial measure as Najib claims it to be but the fact is PR has presented the case to the general public. It now needs to explain further so that information is clear, complete and remains viable.

The only problem with this is that they should have done this much earlier – perhaps immediately after the general election in 2008 and keep up with a similar execution of the plan at State level and have a well run working model to be used as a basis for greater things. This way, their methods would have been proven and any shortcoming could have rectified before it is applied at national level.

Read Also

Orange Book in English

Orange Book in Bahasa Malaysia

Najib and his Budget

The Highway Promise


It certainly looks like a highway robbery than a sincere promise to maintain the highway toll rates

(We are ok with highways and highway toll booths but we are pissed off with the one sided agreement and the huge compensation being paid from the tax payers’ pockets. Image source: http://travelerfolio.com)

During the recent Budget 2011, Najib made this bold statement that the toll rates on four highways owned by PLUS Expressways Berhad (other highway operators, apa macam?) will not be raised for the next five years as a means of alleviating the burden of highway users. For those who have been keeping their heads in the ground, this may sound like a sincere, heavenly promise by politicians who are concerned with the rakyat’s plights. But for the rest of us, we all know that when certain things promised by the politicians seem to be too good to be true, there is always a catch to the deal.

What Compensations?

No one seems to ask the question – what happens to the toll amount that is supposed to be increased by PLUS? Surely PLUS as a business entity is unlikely to give such huge discount (even if it has all the MPs in the Parliament at the top of their voice, protesting for any toll hike) or ignore what is entitled under the agreement. It does not make good business sense and certainly PLUS have their shareholders (which includes the EPF) to answer to. So, opting PLUS to take a huge hair-cut is likely to be out of the question.

And Malaysian Insider reports:-

Toll highway operator PLUS Expressways Bhd could be compensated as much as RM5 billion over the next five years for not raising toll rates. The highway concessionaire is also owed about RM2.5 billion from previous compensation as at June 30.

(Source)

What about the previous compensations and the future compensations?

Toll compensation to PLUS amounted to RM655 million, RM698 million and RM731 million for 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively. PLUS has 30 more years before the concession expires. Without even taking into consideration the direct toll collection from motorists, the government’s compensation amount over the next 30 years would exceed RM68 billion should the current toll rates be maintained. This is after taking into account the fact that PLUS is entitled to increase toll tariffs by 10% every three years.

(Source)

Compensating the highway operators for not increasing their toll is not something new. Compensation (also known as subsidies to some) amounting to millions have been paid whenever the Government have requested the highway operators to maintain the current toll rate. It has been so since the days when Samy Vellu was heading the Works Ministry. PLUS for instance, was reported to have received compensation for almost 850 million for last year alone

For those who are using the highway, freezing the increase of the toll rates may sound like a welcome measure but look again, where the Government is getting the money to compensate the highway operators. Ultimately, it is going to be the rakyat who is going to pay for these compensations. At the end, the net effect of freezing the toll rates ends up meaning nothing.

(Either you get the rakyat to pay the increased toll rates or get the rakyat to pay for the compensation. Either way, the rakyat is screwed. Image source: http://thestar.com.my)

And compensation paid by the Government does not go into the development of the country but rather it goes to enriching the already cash rich business entities. Unlike petrol subsides, there is no external or global factor or limited supply that causes the increase of the toll rates (hence requiring heavy compensations to maintain the rates artificially low). And still remember the warning by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala on compensations?

Let us recap…

Malaysia will be bankrupt by 2019 if it does not cut subsidies and rein in borrowings, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala on Thursday.

(Source)

Idris Jala even proposed that the “toll rates to increase in mid-2010 as per concession agreement except for highways without alternative toll-free routes”. So, why Najib is going on the wrong side of the road? It is obvious that that when the rates are not increased, it is only mean compensation to be made in its place.

To make things worse, the compensation to the highway operators is going to come from those who are not using the highway in the first place. Not many of us uses PLUS highway on daily basis (how many out of the 28.2 million Malaysians?) but if the Government is going to compensate PLUS for the frozen toll rates, one can be assured that their tax money is going to work hard (direct or indirect ) to compensate these highway operators. Is it fair? The one who is using the PLUS highway is enjoying the old toll rate, courtesy of a populist, short-sighted budget but the one who is not using PLUS highway is “paying” for the compensation that runs in billions.

Telling the rakyat that the toll will not be increased for x number of years without a viable proposal on the highway agreement and no means to reduce these painful compensations is anything but empty talk. Not when the money is coming from the right pocket to the left pocket. There is no real saving to the tax payers – it would have been fairer to get those who are using the highway to pay for the usage instead of spreading it to the rest in name of compensation. That way, we can see the money paid to the correct usages – road users’ money to usage of the highway and the Government’s “money” to development of the country (something that Idris Jala pointed earlier).

New Highways, Old Problems?

Then we have this rather disturbing news:-

The Najib administration should explain the tender awards process of four new tolled highways, amid reports of them being directly awarded, DAP MP Tony Pua said today.

(Source)

We are not complaining on the new highways – after all, highways helps in development and somehow provide relief to traffic jams. So we were meant to believe whenever the Government talk about awarding new highways (just wish the bastards who signed off on behalf of the people for the bloody highway that cuts through Puchong are out there, stuck in traffic jam,  with a full bladder, wasting their time and fuel after paying the insane toll charges with their hard earned money). Nah, we don’t mind the new highways but how it is awarded and how it is shrouded in secrecy is what we have a problem with.

The Government says that the highway agreements are subject to Official Secrecy Act but we don’t have a clue why it is deemed secret. Certainly, agreements made by the Government with any business entities will not go to the extent to cause suffering and multiple losses to the people. Certainly methods of calculation of the toll rates will not jeopardize the national security of the country.

In fact, if the agreement is made public, perhaps the road users who are paying the insane toll rates may able to understand as to why the cash rich highway operators increase the toll rates of the already heavily jammed highway (which by the way, built on existing trunk road) to RM0.60 at one go and wanting to increase even more. But no, the Government fought tooth and nail to maintain the agreement secret (is it because they worry the agreement may be challenged in a court of law?).

Now we are hearing that the new 4 highways were directly awarded. How we know that whoever drafting the agreement and working out the formula for toll rate increase have not made the same mistakes that the idiots in the past have done? Has the proper toll reduction mechanism been built this time around? Is there going to be periodic review of the agreement? Is the highway agreement really water-tight and in favor of the people and the country and not helping a profit driven business entity to make even more money?

No Viable Alternatives?

And what happened to the proposed buy back the highway concessionaires that sounded more cost effective than the yearly compensations that the Government keeps paying from public funds?

In 2009, Nutgraph reported:-

The DAP has suggested that the government buy back all shares of PLUS Expressways Bhd that it does not already own, and take over its existing asset-backed liabilities for the approximate amount of RM15 billion. This amount and more would be recovered from motorists using the North-South Highway by maintaining the existing toll rates for six years. Should PLUS be acquired this year, by 2016, toll collection would no longer be required on PLUS-owned highways

(Source)

Tony Pua of DAP made interesting points on the buy back of the highway concessionaires but nothing concrete has been put in place in this aspect (was it because it came from the opposition and not from the ruling party?)

This is why we are suspicious of the Government when it comes to toll rates for the highway. We are even more suspicious when the Government is saying that there will not be any increase in toll rate for the next 5 years. We are suspicious because what is being said is far from reality.

And just when we thought we have seen the worse, came along Warisan Merdeka

With 30 cents up, it’s time to do a budget


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Is this sound very familiar to you?

You received your salary on the dot and based on a rough calculation (some use only their 10 fingers), deducting estimated expenses for the month (it was food, beer and transportation for me), you gather that there is a surplus of almost RM1,000 (I know RM1,000 is bloody lot for some. This is just an example ok?). However, come middle of the month and you are at the ATM machine withdrawing cash, you soon realise that there is less than RM50 in the account. You start to panic. It is not enough to sustain you for the next 15 days.

You sheepishly walk away from the ATM machine, thinking what had happened? Did the bank have wrongly debited your saving account? No, you think again. Did you overspend your income? You think again and you realised that is it – you spend more than what you can earn.

Every one of us has gone through this phase at one point of our life before. Some do it on monthly basis, forever being short of cash by middle of the month sigh (some within the first week of pay day – I know because I have friends who do that). At this point, many of us are desperate for cash and start to borrow money from friends and family.

There was a time when I was working in a bank, I too find myself short of cash by middle of the month. I know my salary is more enough to sustain me until the next salary date but by the middle of the month, I seriously do not know where all that money has go too. There were too many “surprises” for me at the ATM machines. Like others, I complaint that my income is just not enough for my expenses. That was a lame and cheap excuse indeed.
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One day I sat down and thought to myself…I was working in a bank and surprisingly unable to manage my money. That was pathetic man! If a banker cannot managed his own money, then how he is going to manage other people’s money. It’s like a legal clerk not knowing how to prepare a legal document, a supermarket cashier not knowing the best deal in supermarket, etc…you get my drift.

So I started to a budget and keep track of all my income and expenses (ok, I got this idea from MSN Money) and immediately I saw where I was bleeding cash. There seemed like I was spending more for magazines, drinks and more importantly, giving other people unnecessary treats (no wonder a lot of girls wanted to go out lunch with me).

Anyway, by the time my budget tracking was up and running, I noticed that my surplus cash (the surplus used to be a deficit) began to increase. Soon, I had enough to actually deposit it as long term saving. How did I do it? First of all, I did not use any “canggih” software like Microsoft Money. All I used was a simple Ms Excel with 2 sheets – one for consolidated figures and another for daily figures.

My budget Excel has these components:-

1. Daily expenses – basically I put up these columns: date, type of expenses, amount and grand total

2. Monthly budget – I actually budget out for the next 4 – 5 months ahead so that I can plan out contingency in case there is a major expenses coming up in couple of months (like renewal of car insurance)

3. The comparison between budget and actual income & expenses – I have the daily expenses and I have the monthly budget – I compare them (it is easy to do – simply use the Ms Excel formulas) and see where I have overspend.
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This is how my crude Excel sheets after 5 years in use. Google up “how to do budget” and you will get almost 404 million links on that.

In the first month I started to use a budget to keep track, I was surprised on how many ways I was overspending. So, I started to tighten my expenditures and the overspending amount started to go down bit by bit. By the time I got married, I had enough in my savings for the wedding expenses. Even with a kid (if you are a parent, you will know what I mean – having kids means higher expenses), it is still manageable.

So, with the 30 cents up, it only means one thing – it is time to relook and rework the budget. I am sure that it is still manageable.
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(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Money)
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