Saturday, October 8, 2011
Peoples' Budget 2013.
Everyone seems jubilant over the 2013 budget as announced by the PM. There are goodies for everyone ranging from a one-off cash payment to a shake-up of the pay schemes with enhanced annual increment or bonus. Families with an income of less than RM 3000 pm will get a subsidy of sort. Even pensioners will get a 2% increase of their pension wef 2013.
Yes, all seem to be very rosy. A propect of some 4% growth in the economy is very encouraging, to be viewed with an awareness of a 4% deficit in the budget. The cash handouts and annual increases are all offerred to offset the increase in the price of foodstuff and other essentials, which however had not been examined in details. The fear is that unless something is done to stop the spiralling price of essential goods, the increse in the income of government servants will trigger an immediate increase in the price of foodstuff. Just watch what will happen to the price of roti canai, teh tarik and nasi lemak. When the price does not icrease, the amount of the serving will decrease. You csn call that the " diminishing food value " principle.
But thank God, no food shortage is envisaged despite the bad weather and the flood that's causing a lot of d amage to our ricefield and food or fish farms. While lots of funds seem to be earmarked for creativity and innovation in the field of management and industrial production, no subtantive amount of funds seems to be set aside for increases in the productivity of our food farms. Shouldn't the ricefield which yielded the highest product per acre be rewarded or the fish farm which produced the highest tonnage of fish per pond? How about the tailor who sewed tne highest number of clothes or the carpenter who made the most number of tables, chairs or whatever is the measure of productivity used. Why do we only reward the badminton player with the highest number of games won, the footballer with the highest numer of goals scored or the golfer with the lowest numer of strokes per game?
The most obvious neglect as far as I am concerned is the lack of incentive payment promised to researchers, writers and national chroniclers in this country. These are the people who will ruduce to writing the greatness and the achievement of the people and the nation, writings that will benread by posterity and eill enrich the literature of the country. Are we happy with just government brochures, promotion leaflets and coffee-books to record the growth and achievement of our nation? We need great research and literary work, memoirs and biographies, books on general knowledge anf fictions to fill our literary vacuum and libraries now full of foreign materials. We need to develop our own repotoire of literary works and it's not going to emerge if left to ithe ncentive offered by the current market demand for local works. In the olden days the Royal Houses and Palace Courts commissioned scholars to write. Who takes on that responsibility now if not the government. Leaving the task to an Agency designed to promote the use of Bahasa is not enough, nor has it achieved more than provide text books for the schools in Bahasa.
I think we need some kind of a speciwl fund to sponsor, finance and reward scholars and writers to produce works that are not for quick sale and cheap publication. If the rewards for our football, badminton, golf, and other sports stars can run into hundreds of thousand, couldn't the goverment pay as much for research and literary works that will remsin for posterity and become a contribution to the intellectual achievement of the nation? Yes, the budget gave a priotity emphasis on developing huan capital. Does that include the developing and nurturing of writers for the nation. I wonder.