KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — After a gap of 26 years, Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim re-tabled Budget 2023 in Parliament today (24 February) with a total allocation of RM386.14 billion (approximately 87.046 billion USD).
The revised Budget 2023 is themed “Membangun Malaysia Madani (Developing Malaysia Madani),” focusing on reducing government debt, tackling inflation, supporting SMEs, advancing green initiatives, and promoting digital advancement.
Anwar Ibrahim’s budget for 2023 is the largest on record, surpassing even the one tabled by his predecessor Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz in October of last year.
The budget allocates a total of RM372.3 billion, with RM289.1 billion allocated for operational expenditure and RM97 billion designated for development.
Despite the increased budget, Malaysia’s revenue in 2022 was higher than the previous year, achieving RM291.5 billion compared to RM234 billion in 2021.
Malaysia’s debts and liabilities at RM1.5 trillion
However, Malaysia’s debts and liabilities stood at RM1.5 trillion, which is around 81 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Around RM46 billion was used solely to pay off debts, which is above the 15 per cent limit and amounts to 16 per cent of the government’s revenue.
“That is just to serve interest payments, not the principle,” Anwar said.
Anwar projected a deficit of 5 per cent for 2023.
The Budget 2023, which was prepared by the administration headed by the former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, was not subject to debate and approval as Parliament was dissolved on 10 October of last year to make way for the 15th General Election (GE15).
Anwar Ibrahim last tabled the budget in Malaysia’s Parliament in 1997 when he was the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister under Mahathir Mohamad’s administration.
Malaysia Budget 2023 re-tabled to Parliament after GE15
Prior to GE15, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, under the leadership of Ismail Sabri Yaakob, presented the Malaysia Budget 2023 on 7 October of last year, which included an allocation of RM372.3 billion.
Ismail Sabri’s administration intended to allocate RM404.3 billion for the 2023 budget, representing an increase of RM40.2 billion from the previous year.
Of this amount, RM272.3 billion was allocated for operational expenditure, while RM95 billion was designated for development.
Three days later, Ismail Sabri announced the dissolution of Parliament. With the country having held GE15 on 20 November, the newly elected government will need to reintroduce Budget 2023 in Parliament.
Ismail Sabri is said to be facing pressure from within his own party, UMNO, to call for the election by the end of last year.
Before GE15, Tengku Zafrul suggested that Budget 2023 could be tabled again after the election was held, citing the 1999 snap polls as precedent.