Money for favours: millions demanded and paid, bribes from property developers


The court cases involving Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, her former aide Datuk Rizal Mansor and ex-Cabinet member Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor centre upon allegations that millions have been demanded and paid in connection with projects pursued by companies. 

Meanwhile, a property developer is charged with bribing Tengku Adnan and the names of other companies and businessmen have appeared in the charges  – The Star

 see more ….

Rosmah slapped with graft charges

  • RM1.25bil solar hybrid project scandal!
Datin Seri Rosmah MansorvShe’s accused of soliciting bribes linked with projects to provide electricity to Sarawak

 

Ku Nan charged with receiving RM3mil bribes from developers – Nation

 

Facing the law: Tengku Adnan being led to the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur.
Facing the law: Tengku Adnan being led to the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur.

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Property developer Tan is a self-made businessman – Nation

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Malaysia’s Budget 2019: Making the tiger roar again in 3 years?


The Pakatan Harapan government yesterday tabled its maiden budget that sought to restore Malaysia’s status as an “Asian Tiger” with a clean and transparent government that cares for the rakyat. (EPA/FANDY AZLAN)

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Pakatan Harapan government yesterday tabled its maiden budget that sought to restore Malaysia’s status as an “Asian Tiger” with a clean and transparent government that cares for the rakyat.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in tabling the 2019 Budget in Parliament, said: “As long as we are clean, people-centric and focused on carrying out institutional reforms, we can restore Malaysia back to fiscal health in three years.

“Let our love for our country unite us, our challenges make us stronger and our confidence awaken Malaysia as an Asian Tiger all over again.”

Themed “A Resurgent Malaysia, A Dynamic Economy, A Prosperous Society”, the RM314.5 billion budget for next year has three areas of focus with 12 key strategies.

One focus area — to ensure the socio-economic well-being of Malaysians — will be the key performance indicator of the government’s success.

“We will seek to meet this objective by ensuring welfare and quality of life, improving employment and employability, enhancing wealth and social welfare protection, raising real disposal income and education for a better future,” he said.

In a speech that lasted more than two hours, interrupted by intermittent heckling from opposition lawmakers, Lim announced a slew of measures to address the people’s key concerns, from cost of living to housing, healthcare, education and transport.

Cash grants for the low-income Bottom 40 (B40) group will continue, single vehicle/motorbike owners with engine capacity of 1500cc and below will get targeted fuel subsidy, and the minimum wage will be raised to RM1,100 from Jan 1.

A National Health Protection Fund, with free coverage on four critical illnesses of up to RM8,000 and a hospitalisation benefit of RM50 a day, was also introduced for the B40 group.

For the affordable home programmes, Lim announced an allocation of RM1.5 billion while Bank Negara Malaysia will set up a RM1 billion fund to help those earning below RM2,300 a month to own houses costing below RM150,000.

The government will also allow the private sector to engage in new crowdfunding schemes for first-time housebuyers.

The Education Ministry received the lion’s share of the budget, with an allocation of RM60.2 billion, including RM2.9 billion assistance for the poor and RM652 million to upgrade and repair schools.

An amount of RM3.8 billion has been set aside for government scholarships.

All intra-city toll rate hikes will be frozen next year, said Lim, and public transport users, meanwhile, can buy RM100 monthly passes for unlimited trips on RapidKL rail or bus services beginning January.

A RM50 monthly pass is also available for those who use RapidKL buses only.

Civil servants and pensioners were not left out — staff up to Grade 54 will receive a one-off special payment of RM500; while government pensioners will get RM250.

The budget deficit for this year is likely to be 3.7 per cent, while gross domestic product (GDP) growth is forecast at 4.8 per cent and 4.9 per cent next year.

To ensure strong and dynamic economic growth, another focus area is to promote an entrepreneurial state that leverages innovation and creativity, while embracing the new digital economy.

The government aims to provide at least 30Mbps broadband connectivity outside urban centres within five years, while funds have been allocated to encourage investments in green technology and transition into Industry 4.0.

Corporate tax rate will be reduced to 17 per cent from 18 per cent for SMEs with paid capital below RM2.5 million, and businesses with annual taxable income below RM500,000.

Meanwhile, after inheriting “a worrying state of financial affairs which was in dire straits” with debts amounting to RM1.065 trillion from the previous administration, the third area of focus is to implement institutional reforms that promote transparent fiscal discipline.

“We intend to table a new Government Procurement Act next year to govern procurement processes to ensure transparency and competition, while punishing abuse of power, negligence and corruption,” Lim said.

He said open tenders will not only achieve more value-for-money for taxpayers, it will also nurture an efficient and competitive private sector.

To ensure that Malaysia has a clean government, the budget also saw the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission receiving an increased allocation of RM286.8 million.

Lim said the allocation, which is an 18.5 per cent increase from this year’s, will see MACC employing up to 100 more staff next year as the government revs up its anti-graft campaign.

Putrajaya expects to collect a revenue of RM261.8 billion next year, including a RM30 billion dividend from Petronas.

To raise its revenue, the government will leverage its assets and review taxation policies.

This includes reducing its stake in non-strategic companies, expanding the Service Tax to cover online services, and raising licence fees and taxes in the gaming sector.- By Nst Team

The following are the highlights of the 2019 Budget, which was tabled by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in Parliament on Friday. (Bernama photo)

The budget carries the theme of “Credible Malaysia, Dynamic Economy, Prosperous Rakyat” and will focus on three main thrusts with 12 key strategies to recapture Malaysia’s ‘Economic Tiger’ status.

The three main thrusts are:

*Institutional reforms

*People’s wellbeing

*Promotion of entrepreneurial culture

.The 12 strategies are:

*Strengthening fiscal management

*Restructuring and rationalising government debt

*Increase government revenue

*Ensuring welfare and quality life

*Increasing job opportunities and marketability

*Improving quality of healthcare services and social welfare protection

*Increasing disposable income

*Education for a better future

*Initiating new economic power

*Grabbing opportunity to face global challenge

*Redefining government’s role in business

*Ensuring economic fairness and sustainable economic growth

Related:

Govt vows to restore our finances – Nation

 

image: https://www.thestar.com.my/~/media/online/2018/11/03/03/17/budget-spread.ashx?la=en

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Separate role for property managers


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Institute of Professional Property Managers and Facility Managers (MIPFM) is suggesting property and facility management to be treated independently from valuation.

President Sarkunan Subramaniam said the bias towards valuers had to stop if property management is to progress in today’s fast-changing digital and technology capabilities.

“I urge the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers to reconsider its decision and listen to the professional bodies.

“Giving a property management licence to one who has no or little experience in property management is dangerous,” he said.

Sarkunan was speaking at the MIPFM Conference 2018 on Bridging Property Management and Facility Management.

He said the current real estate degrees are skewed towards valuation subjects. Those who trained in predominantly valuation-based companies have little to no experience in managing properties.

Government valuers, having passed valuers test, are automatically handed the property management licence.

Sarkuanna, himself a valuer, is calling for objectivity. He said the diverse range of office buildings, mixed integrated projects and stratified residential projects must be matched with parallel top grade maintenance. Or their value may suffer.

“I will get a lot of opposition for my views but this is for the good of the real estate sector,” he said.

Sarkunan also highlighted the rife corruption in this field. “Corruption in procurement, kickbacks and side money is so prevalent that it has rusted performance, bringing many buildings to a grinding halt,” he said.

Sarkunan related the tale of two office blocks in Bangsar where seven out of its nine management committee (MC) members have resigned, the chairman among them.

Those who resigned were from Tower A, which the developer had earlier sold to private individual owners. Tower B belonged to the developer who had put the building under a real estate investment trust.

There was a cash surplus in the accounts. It seems that during the period when the developer was managing the property, the developer apportioned all surplus monies collected to the tower they retained. When the MC took over, it faced a defiant developer.

The Commissioner of Buildings has directed an extraordinary general meeting to be held.

In another case, a developer refused to pave the way for a joint management body (JMB) to be formed because it wanted to control the money collected, Sarkunan said. COB stepped in to resolve the issue.

Transparency International Malaysia president Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar said fraud and corruption is common due to the variety of goods and services involved.

Satar said that in 2010, Palm Court Condominium residents alleged that about RM144,000 was misappropriated. The committee agreed to take “appropriate measures” but refused an independent audit.

On Jan 31, 2017, members of a JMB were arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for allegedly misappropriating RM1.5mil.

Satar said cases like these highlighted the need for a culture of integrity and transparency.

– The Star by Thean Lee Cheng

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Malaysia’s widening income gap between rich and the poor has only RM76 a month after expenses


 

The State of Households – Khazanah Research Institute

 

Launch of State of Households 2018: Different Realities. From left to right: Datuk Hisham Hamdan, Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi, Allen Ng, Dr Suraya Ismail, Junaidi Mansor.

Malaysia’s widening income gap

KUALA LUMPUR: The gap in income between the rich, middle class and poor in Malaysia has widened since 2008, according to a study by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI).

In its “The State of Households 2018” report, the research outfit of sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd noted that the gap in the real average income between the top-20% households (T20) and the middle-40% (M40) and bottom-40% (B40) households in Malaysia has almost doubled compared to two decades ago.

The report, entitled “Different Realities”, pointed out that while previous economic crises in 1987 and the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis saw a reduction in the income gap between the T20 and B40/M40, post 2008/09 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), those disparities were not reduced.

But the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality in the country, had declined from 0.513 in 1970 to 0.399 in 2016, denoting improvement in income inequality in Malaysia over the past 46 years.

Explaining the phenomenon, Allen Ng, who is the lead author of the KRI report, said income of the T20 households had continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace than that of the M40 and B40 since 2010.

“However, because they (the T20) started at a higher base, the income gap between the T20 and M40/B40 had continued to grow despite the fact that the relative (income growth) is actually narrowing post-GFC,” Ng explained at a press conference after the launch of the report here yesterday.

On that note, Ng calls for greater emphasis and investment in human capital to address the income disparities in the country.

“Human capital is the lynchpin that will help us in the next mile of development,” Ng said.

“Based on the work that we have done, and the way we read the issue, the most important equaliser in terms of income inequality is actually human capital. If we don’t address the quality of our education system, we will not be able to solve the problem of income inequality,” he added.

Among the many key issues highlighted in the report, the state of human capital development in Malaysia was noted as a crucial element to complement the country’s transition towards a knowledge-based economy.

“To complement the knowledge-based economy, the state of human capital development in this country – of which 20% of government expenditure goes to education – has plenty of room for improvement,” the report stated.

Worryingly, the report noted that despite Malaysians receiving 12 years of schooling, they receive only nine years’ worth of schooling after adjusting for education quality.

“The central issue of generating high-quality human capital in this country is an important one as the transition to a high-income nation requires human capital levels that continuously improve productivity, sustain growth and are able to create or utilise technological advancements rather than being substituted by it,” the report said.

Meanwhile, KRI also noted that despite the improvement in income inequality and declining poverty rates in Malaysia, poverty in the country remained rampant.

“While the absolute poverty rate has been steadily declining, it is estimated that an additional one million households lived in ‘relative poverty’ in 2016 compared to two decades ago,” it said in its report.-  The Star

Malaysia’s Lower Income Group Only Has RM76 To Spend A Month After Expenses

Shocking.
Some numbers for your soul.- PIC: Department of Statistics Malaysia

According to The Star Online, these households — categorised under the bottom 40% (B40) income group in the country because they are earning less than RM2,000 a month — only have RM76 to spare, after deductions, in 2016.

As comparison, these households have a residual income of RM124 in 2014.

The reason for the sharp decline? They were forced to spend more of their income on household items.

The study revealed that these households are spending 95 per cent of their total  income on consumption items in 2016 compared to 2014, when the same households spend ‘only’ 92 per cent of their income on daily items.
So, what’s the cause behind this worrying trend?

The report indicated that the rising cost of living is mainly to be blamed for the increase in household expenditure, so #ThanksNajib.

In fact, the report revealed that the high cost of living has affected not only the B40, but all income groups as well.

The real residual household income has, according to the report, reduced
for all income classes. For example, households earning above RM15,000
has a real resi­dual income of RM13,100 in 2016, down from RM14,458 in
2014.

Sigh, we guess we just have to spend our money wisely from now on. No more RM16 Caramel Frappuccino® from Starbucks from now on.

Money, where did you go?

We know we keep saying that we’re broke, but after reading this report, we found out that there are a lot of people out there who are having it worse than us.

A recent Khazanah Research Insti­tute (KRI) study revealed that every month, the average lower-income household in Malaysia has barely enough to survive after household expenses are deducted.

It’s, like, really, really bad!
Related:

We need a complete overhaul of our education system, says NUTP – Nation

 

Malaysia’s widening income gap between rich and poor – Business …

 

 

 

Bukit Kukus paired road hits snag before mishap, stop work order to contractor on collapsed beams


Precarious situation: The collapsed beams along Jalan Tun Sardon which fell and broke after being knocked down.

Video:

https://content.jwplatform.com/players/rQ2BJiZc-d74adXtC.html

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/10/14/stop-work-road-contractor-told-dosh-to-look-at-work-sites-procedures-after-mishap/?jwsource=twi

Stop work, road contractor told

 

BALIK PULAU: The contractor of the 600m elevated road project linking Jalan Bukit Kukus to Jalan Tun Sardon here has been issued with a stop-work order.

The order came following a mishap on the site where 14 concrete beams measuring 25m each fell onto a slope in Jalan Tun Sardon on Thursday.

Eleven beams broke apart in the 8.30pm incident. However, no injuries were reported.

It is learnt that a crane operator accidentally knocked down one of the beams laid on the ground, causing others to fall onto the slope like dominoes.

Penang Department of Occupa­tional Safety and Health (DOSH) director Mohd Rosdee Yaacob said the contractor had been instructed to be present at the DOSH office tomorrow for a meeting.

“We are reviewing the standard operating procedures at the work site.

“For now, the contractor is not allowed to load and unload other concrete beams,” he said yesterday

Mohd Rosdee said his officers were only sent to the site on Friday as they were not immediately informed of the incident.

State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the contractor had been told to prepare a full report for DOSH.

He said the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) would also initiate an internal inquiry tomorrow.

The construction of the elevated road, together with the upgrading of a 1.1km stretch along Lebuhraya Thean Teik and a 1.5km stretch along Lebuh Bukit Jambul, is a MBPP project costing RM275.6mil and is scheduled for completion early next year.

The three segments are part of the project for the construction of the RM545mil alternative road – Jalan Bukit Kukus – to help ease traffic snarls along Jalan Paya Terubong, which is an arterial road linking Bayan Baru, Balik Pulau and Air Itam.

The construction works involve linking Lebuhraya Thean Teik in Bandar Baru Air Itam and Lebuh Bukit Jambul in Penang via Jalan Bukit Kukus, building an elevated U-turn along Lebuh Bukit Jambul for those who want to make a turn and go back to Relau. – The Star

Paired road already hits snag

 

Slow path ahead: The elevated road near Jalan Paya Terubong in Penang will not be ready for another two years.

GEORGE TOWN: Work on the RM545mil Jalan Bukit Kukus paired road project has hit a snag even before the construction mishap in Jalan Tun Sardon.

The completion date on the project, an alternative road linking Lebuhraya Thean Teik in Bandar Baru Air Itam to Lebuh Bukit Jambul, will be delayed by a year till mid-2020 due to unforeseen obstacles during construction.

State Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari, in describing the project as “very complicated”, said it was constructed by three parties as a cost-saving measure.

“The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) will construct 2.8km of the stretch, while PLB Land Sdn Bhd and Geo Valley Sdn Bhd will construct the remaining 1.4km and 0.7km respectively,” he said.

Zairil said while the three parties involved in the works faced various issues resulting in the delay.

“For example, the MBPP which is working on the 2.8km stretch costing RM275.6mil, faced a delay due to land acquisition issues, realignment and relocation of cables.

“The project is 69% done and to be completed by early 2020.

“PLB Land faced issues with big rocks and boulders. The RM150mil section has progressed 36% and scheduled for mid-2020,” he said.

Zairil said that Geo Valley faced legal issues as the residents affected by their section of the project took up matters with the Appeals Board and the case was pending.

The RM120mil stretch by Geo Valley is now 18% completed.

“Once PLB and Geo Valley complete their portions, we will connect them accordingly,” he said.

It was earlier reported that the contractor of the 600m elevated road project linking Jalan Bukit Kukus to Jalan Tun Sardon was issued with a stop-work order.

The order came after a mishap on the site where 14 concrete beams measuring 25m fell onto a slope in Jalan Tun Sardon on Thursday. No injuries were reported.

It is learnt that a crane operator accidentally knocked down one of the beams laid on the ground, causing others to fall onto the slope.

Paya Terubong assemblyman Yeoh Soon Hin hopes that there will be no further delays.

“About 60,000 vehicles use Jalan Paya Terubong daily to get to Bayan Lepas, and traffic congestion is bad during peak hours.

“I hope the project will be completed safely according to specifications and on schedule for the people to use,” he said.

Once the alternative route is completed, traffic is expected to see a reduction of at least 30%.

The new link will comprise a dual carriageway with a bicycle lane, walkway and LED street lights.

A small waterfall on the hill will also be retained and construction would go around the waterfall.

Last month, MBPP mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the construction on the paired road would take up RM44.2mil of the council’s budget next year. – The Star by Lo Tern Chern

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Don’t let developers take control, councils told


Do not let developers take control, deputy minister tells councils

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developers are behaving more and more like local councils, Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah said, noting that this has given rise to the current form of townships that are not centralised and are dominated and led by private developers.

There are developers who are acting like local councils as the latter have not been taking the lead, and this is a cause for concern, he said.

Raja Kamarul noted that traditionally, the local governments were the decision makers but this fact has changed of late.

“Long ago, it was the local government that determines what developers should build, creating markets, shopping malls, commercial, industrial, agricultural and entertainment areas, and of course, knowing how many homes need to be built because they know the population in the area,” he said in his keynote address at the opening of the one-day Housing and Property Development Colloquium on “Reimagining the Housing and Property Industry in the New Malaysia” here yesterday.

“But now, the role has shifted to the developers, giving rise to the current form of townships that are not centralised and are dominated and led by private developers,” he said.

“Most concerning is the recent trend that developers are behaving more and more like the local council themselves, in having their own private security for substantial portions of residential and commercial areas as an example, and other provisions of services and infrastructure.

“Although the local governments retain power and control where their approval is needed to build, they have often failed to take a more proactive role,” said Raja Kamarul.

He also highlighted that some local governments have failed in providing basic services to the people, causing developers to step in to fill the void.

“Local governments must find the will and desire to see their own town, cities and districts develop into comfortable townships and not allow developers to take entire pieces of land and create their own defacto privatised local government,” he said.

He also said this is why the government is looking to bring back local government elections, in order to bring back a sense of accountability by local governments.

“Once constituted, citizens can take leaders of the local government to task when services and facilities are not up to par. This should lead to more tangible and improved living conditions for the rakyat,” added Raja Kamarul.

Credit:  Ahmad Naqib Idris The Edge Financial Daily

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Be ready – financial crisis is near


Prepare Now for the Next Financial Crisis

THE financial crisis affecting developing countries arrived in full-scale fashion in our region last week when the Indonesian economy experienced shocks reminiscent of the Asian crisis 20 years ago.

With the crisis coming so close to home, it is time to contemplate what may unfold in the near future and list measures to respond to each scenario, so that we are not taken by surprise.

The agreement reached with Singa­pore to postpone construction of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project until end-May 2020 (with Malaysia paying S$15mil [RM45.1mil] in cost) was an achievement. It allows us a gap of two years before having to meet the mega project’s large expenses.

The next couple of years will be crucial, as the country will be in the midst of managing the “perfect storm” of servicing the trillion-ringgit government debt and preventing the government deficit from ballooning, while facing the challenges of the emerging global financial crisis.

In this tight situation, every billion ringgit counts; indeed every single ringgit counts.

As more discoveries are made of missing money, whether due to the 1MDB scandal or unpaid tax refunds, there is increasing pressure to save money and cut costs to avoid wider deficits.

So the HSR’s two-year deferment helps a lot. It may be like kicking the can down the street, but hopefully, the situation will improve by the end of the two years to allow the can to be picked up, especially if during the period, ways are found to cut the overall cost of the project.

Other projects too have to be scrutinised. Besides the East Coast Rail Link and Trans Sabah gas pipeline projects, there are many other projects whose costs have to be examined, and whose implementation can be postponed or cancelled.

Besides the scourge of overpricing and kickbacks, there is the over-riding concern that a financial crisis has to be averted.

Indonesia’s Energy Minister last week announced that energy projects worth US$25bil (RM103.64bil) and representing half of President Joko Widodo’s grand electricity programme, would be postponed or restructured. This is to save US$8bil (RM33.1bil) to US$10bil (rm41.45bil) on imports for the projects.

Indonesia is also raising tariffs to 10% on over 1,000 goods in a move to reduce the import bill.

These are some measures the country is forced to take as its economy enters full crisis mode. It could even face a meltdown of the 1998-99 scale. The rupiah fell to almost 15,000 per US dollar, the lowest point since the 1998 crisis.

Indonesia is vulnerable to a financial crisis due to its dual deficits (in the current account and government budget), large external debt and high foreign ownership of equity and government bonds.

Indonesia is caught in a vicious cycle, which is typical when financially liberalised countries follow orthodox fire-fighting policies. When the markets perceive that the external reserves could be insufficient to pay for imports, service debts and absorb potential capital outflows, the currency depreciates.

The perception sparks a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fall in currency makes it more difficult for the government and companies to service foreign loans, and also prompts investors to pull out their money.

In such a situation, the government raises the interest rate to incentivise investors to retain their money in the country. Indonesian interest rates have risen by 1.25 percentage points since May.

However, the side effect is that homebuyers and companies find it more difficult to service their mortgage and business loans. Credit slows down, and so does the economy. This in turn causes the currency to drop further, prompting more rounds of interest rate increases, which lead to loan defaults and bankruptcies.

The economy goes into recession, leading to more capital outflows, including by local people. The currency drops again, recession deepens, and the cycle continues.

Indonesia is still at the start of this cycle. Hopefully it will find the policy tools, including unorthodox ones that work, to avoid a long stay in the spiral. But Indonesia is by no means alone. Argentina and Turkey are deep in their crises, and more and more countries are suffering the contagion effect, including South Africa, India, Iran and the Philippines.

Following the 2008-09 global financial crisis that especially hit the United States and Europe, many hundreds of billions of dollars rushed to emerging markets, including Malaysia, in search of higher yields. The liquidity was created by quantitative easing (government pumping money into the banking system) and low interest rates in the US and Europe.

Now the funds are leaving the emerging economies and returning to the US. This is due to the US policy reversing to quantitative tightening, the rise in its interest rates, and fears of an emerging market crisis and a worsening trade war.

Developing countries vulnerable to currency decline, a pull-out of funds and a crisis are those with significant current account deficits, government budget deficits and debts; low foreign reserves; large external debt; and high foreign ownership of local bonds and equities.

Malaysia is so far safe but it is wise not to be complacent. It is not easy to escape contagion once it spreads.

A few warning signs have appeared, such as a narrowing of the current account surplus and significant portfolio investment outflows (both in the second quarter), and a weakening of the ringgit, besides the larger than previously reported government debt and the need to prevent the budget deficit from increasing.

The old Scout motto, “Be Prepared”, comes in handy at times like this. It is good to prepare now for any eventuality, so as to avoid being caught by surprise.

Credit: Martin Khor Global Trends The Staronline

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