KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday slammed a widening deficit in the government’s 2009 budget that sparked concerns over Malaysia’s economic health and vowed to unveil a more responsible budget if he topples the ruling coalition this month.
Anwar, who was re-elected to Parliament last week, said his plans to seize power from the National Front coalition through parliamentary defections by Sept. 16 remains on track.
He said he has held talks with ruling party lawmakers and the response was “very good” but declined to elaborate.
“If we can form a government within this short period, then a new (2009) budget will be introduced,” Anwar told reporters. “We are not proceeding with this irresponsible expansionary budget.”
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Friday unveiled a record 208 billion ringgit ($62 billion) budget for 2009, with wide-ranging aid for the poor and higher development spending amid sharply higher inflation.
The fiscal deficit is forecast to balloon to 4.8 percent of gross domestic product this year and 3.6 percent in 2009, from 3.2 percent in 2007.
Anwar said the 4.8 percent deficit was untenable as there were little measures in the budget to boost the country’s productivity and economic competitiveness. [more]