Venerable Ledi Sayādaw often criticised so-called "merit-making" too. However, it does depend a lot on having the right-view and right intention. Giving alms, firmly believing in the rich fruit of wholesome kamma, hoping for long life, wisdom, health, wealth, and other blessings in future existences is not necessarily craving to enjoy sensual pleasures — one may merely wish to gain favourable circumstances to practice the Dhamma in future lives. The noblest giving is done aspiring to realise the cessation of craving (nibbāna).
The Bodhisatta also practised the perfections throughout many existences, wishing to attain Omniscience. We must distinguish between the unwholesome kamma of craving (tanhā), and the wholesome desire to attain spiritual progress (chandiddhipāda). Without a strong desire to succeed, nothing can be attained.
In his (Gambhīra Dīpanī) he admonished a rather materialistic Buddhist minister.
NOW, it’s the most favourable chance,
five rare attainments to enhance,
oh! You’re a man of international fame,
and you’ve plenty of affairs all the same.
They seem important and real,
but they are not worthy nor essential.
Your viewpoint is neither clear nor right,
in charcoal-room at dark cloudy midnight.
You perform good actions occasionally,
according to your whims, traditionally.
Time is steadily passing without stopping,
as to death, the leveller, you’re approaching.
As a gift or fee for the executioner,
with various foods, to present or to offer,
resting in the aggregates of wealthy chamber,
you are waiting to die with satisfaction
enjoying the worldly assumed perfection.
• • • • (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)