DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has today warned the government not to exploit the additional funding of RM45 billion secured in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders.
The Bagan MP said the additional funding must go towards direct fiscal injection to the public and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), rather than diverted for crony-linked contracts ahead of state elections in Melaka and Sarawak.
“This was spelt out clearly and agreed to during the series of Budget consultations with the Finance Minister [Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz] following reports that at least RM2 billion will be given out in the form of projects to contractors.
“One of the main purposes of PH signing the MoU is to secure this RM45 billion additional funding in the form of direct fiscal injection to the people, businesses and SMEs to save lives and livelihoods.
“Whilst the DAP has no objection to development projects to contractors, the government has other sources of funding and should not stand in the way of direct funds for the people and SMEs,” said Lim in a statement issued here.
On October 11, the Ministry of Finance tabled the Temporary Measures for Government Financing [Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)] (Amendment) Act 2021 for the second reading in the Dewan Rakyat.
The Bill aimed to increase the federal government’s statutory debt limit from 60 percent to 65 percent of gross domestic product, which would allow the government to raise the ceiling cap for the Covid-19 Fund from RM65 billion to RM110 billion.
Lim, the former finance minister under the PH administration from 2018 to 2020, said additionally the MoU required an unprecedented three months interest waiver for the poorest 50 percent of the population, which was finally agreed to by the banking industry.
“For this purpose, at least RM30 billion of direct funding should be allocated for SMEs, with the remainder RM15 billion will be for health, job creation benefits, and financial aid for the unemployed.
“Some of the assistance to the people announced by the government will come from the RM45 billion fiscal package included in the MoU,” he added.
Lim explained that the RM30 billion for SMEs was also agreed to by the finance minister in accordance with the MoU.
He said DAP hopes that the funds can be disbursed quickly before the end of the year to match the reopening of the economy so that businesses and jobs can get back on their feet quickly.
“In living together with Covid-19, let us work together to save lives and livelihoods,” said Lim. – MMO