Budget 2021: Opposition MPs Would Only Back ‘People-Centric’ Budget

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Several opposition Members of Parliament (MP) have indicated that they would back Budget 2021 on Nov 6, provided it is beneficial to the rakyat amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad said he wants to see a rakyat-centric budget that would, among others, centre on protecting the people from the coronavirus and boost their livelihoods.

“Of course, I will surely back any motion or bill if it is advantageous to Malaysians, especially in this current situation. I hope priority will be given to the health sector, given this challenging period in tackling this on-going health crisis.

“If you remember in the previous budget, approved by former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, the sector which received the highest allocation was education, followed by health. So, we hope this will be adjusted based on the priorities we see now for the next year.

“We also have to ensure that we have sufficient (financial) injection for the economy and businesses. We do not want everybody to close down (their businesses) because it would be costly to restart all over again. Therefore, the injection of economic packages is also equally important,” the Parti Amanah Negara MP told the New Straits Times yesterday.

Although the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government did not hold a Budget 2021 pre-consultative session with Opposition MPs, Khalid said it is not a problem, as sticking points could still be discussed in the debates and finalised as things go along.

This, however, is subject to the government’s willingness to be open to fresh ideas as well as constructive criticism.

“If they already have a budget that is prepared and ready to be tabled, they can always engage us immediately thereafter.

“We can always have discussions and form parliamentary committees to sit down and study the details, while the budget itself is being debated.

“We have about two weeks, so we can really do the ‘finger counting’ and reformulate the whole budget, if necessary, in order to achieve something you can have consensus on,” added Khalid.

Gopeng MP Dr Lee Boon Chye said he, too, would put in his vote for motions and bills that would bring good to the country and for the betterment of the rakyat.

“I think they should have a substantial increase in budget for the Health Ministry, which includes a special allocation to combat Covid-19. I do hope there would be considerable amount for public health.

“We need to prevent Covid-19 transmission, instead of (focusing on) putting out the fire (of infections). Prevention is better and we need to tighten up efforts to reduce the spread of the virus,” said the former deputy health minister.

The PKR lawmaker, however, said if PN wants the support of the Opposition, it should have initiated talks and involved them on Budget 2021 prior to it being tabled.

This, he added, was vital in obtaining the bipartisan support of lawmakers for the finance bill.

“There have been no consultations at all so far. So, it is premature to say whether we can support or otherwise. I believe there is still room to negotiate, as we have about 11 days before the tabling of Budget 2021.

“Certainly, we can work together based on the framework of the PN budget, as it will only come to a vote in about four weeks from now. So, there is still ample time to have bipartisan input,” he said.

Of Malaysia’s 222 MPs, 112 are PN parliamentarians, while 108 are in the Opposition.

There is also one independent MP; while another seat is vacant following the death of Batu Sapi MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong on Oct 1. – NST