PETALING JAYA (April 8): It was a "dire mistake" for Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak to include Pakatan Rakyat's promises in the ruling coalition's manifesto as it reflects the feasibility of such policies, said PKR's Rafizi Ramli today.
The PKR's director of strategy added that popular policies suggested by the opposition coalition such as lowering prices of cars and gradual reduction of toll were economically viable and will not drag the country into bankruptcy because these were also included in the BN manifesto. "I would like to say this to Najib. I think it is a dire mistake to (include) our promises in (their) manifesto... because these promises confirm that our country is in solid financial standing," he said, adding that it showed BN agreed with PR's financial calculation. "In this two years, (Najib) has argued that PR programmes cannot be implemented as they will bankrupt the country. But in the space of one day, this (argument) is demolished. "It is an extreme tactical mistake, which we will manipulate it to the fullest starting today," he said at party headquarters today. The press conference was held in response to the BN manifesto which Najib revealed last Saturday. PR has claimed that many of the popular policies have been copied from its manifesto which was released on Feb 25. Rafizi highlighted 22 items which he said were "copied" from the PR manifesto including reduction of car prices, abolishing of cabotage which will standardise prices of essential good, and people-friendly affordable housing schemes among others. Although these policies were copied, the manner in which they were incorporated in the BN manifesto left much to be desired as it will not tackle the needs of the people. Rafizi also questioned the lack of a concrete time frame to implement the measures. "BN says it will abolish the toll in stages but they might abolish five sen before the 14th general election and say that they have fulfilled their promises," he added. He also said that issues surrounding cost of living will be critical. "Elections are not determined by a list of 70 things but it comes down to three or four issues." Zooming in on the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M), the monetary assistance to households that earn less than RM3,000, which has been increased to RM1,200 from RM500, Rafizi said that inflation needed to be taken into account and that the cash handouts will not improve the economic standing of the households. "This addition is equivalent to RM100 every month for the household and RM50 for singles. This increase comes when there are no suggestions to lower the price of goods," he said. Besides BR1M for households, BN has also promised RM600 aide to those who are single and earn less than RM2,000. Although admitting that he was still running the numbers, Rafizi said that if population growth and inflation was 2% in 10 years from now, a total of RM11 billion will be spent on BR1M come 2023. When asked if PR will abolish the handouts, he said that those deserving of financial aid such as the handicapped, senior citizens and others will likely receive these handouts, while the focus will be on increasing the income of the others.