Najib takes a crack at Dr M over plans to stop BR1M payouts

NST Online

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he was disappointed that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was bent on stopping the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) payouts. He said instead of helping the people during a looming economic crisis as predicted by analysts, the government seemed more intent on punishing those who needed help. The former prime minister said economists had revised downward the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) projection from 5.4 per cent previously to 4.5 per cent while oil palm and rubber prices had also fallen since the 14th General Election (GE14). “Therefore, I don’t see the wrong in taking money from the rich who escape from paying taxes (since the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was abolished), and giving it to the poor,” he said. Najib said Pakatan Harapan (PH) must also explain why it seemed to be turning back on the promise of continuing with BR1M as listed in their GE14 manifesto. “It looks like the government seems more interested in protecting the interests of the rich and also tax evaders instead of helping the poor and working towards higher wages for the people. “I fear that the income gap between the rich and poor, which was getting narrower during my time, will start widening again in Dr Mahathir’s first term itself,” he said in a statement on his Facebook. A newsportal had quoted Dr Mahathir as saying that 7.2 million BR1M recipients were in for a shocker as Putrajaya slowly reduces the payouts before weaning it out altogether. The newsportal quoted Dr Mahathir as blaming the Najib administration for “spoiling” the people. The prime minister was also quoted as saying that the people should stop depending on the government and believing that they are entitled to money without doing any work. Najib said it was strange that Dr Mahathir had accused the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government of stealing money to pay for the BR1M initiative. “The money for BR1M payouts is not stolen from anywhere. “It was derived from the subsidy rationalisation programmes and also sourced from the GST collection,” he said, adding BR1M was also not created for political mileage but done solely to help households with low income. Najib also chided Dr Mahathir’s administration over its plans to introduce the Sales and Services Tax (SST) by doing away with the GST. He said the rich would stand to gain more from it as GST was a consumption tax which inevitably led to the rich to pay more. “In the end, the money was returned to the B40 group through the BR1M payouts,” he said, adding the payouts had led to greater economic spinoffs as the people had money to spend. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd