Govt, opposition in Budget 2022 talks

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The federal government has started holding discussions with the opposition before Budget 2022 is tabled next month.

Deputy Finance Minister Yamani Hafez Musa said the government was committed to discussing with the opposition, following the memorandum of understanding on transformation and political stability, signed by the federal government and Pakatan Harapan.

He said this, among other things, was to ensure the proposed initiatives and measures prioritise the health and welfare of the people, as well as matters related to business continuity.

“In the spirit of mutual agreement, especially in the effort to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic, and on the concern of the government and the opposition to restore the country, the government hopes negotiations on Budget 2022 will run smoothly and can be agreed upon,” he said when winding-up the debate on the motion of thanks for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s royal address for the Finance Ministry (MOF) in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Yamani also said the MOF, for the first time, issued a pre-budget statement for Budget 2022 on August 31, to increase transparency in the process of drafting budget initiatives as well as to build public confidence in the country’s fiscal management, especially among investors.

According to him, the statement is one of the transformations implemented by the government, with the aim of providing opportunities to all stakeholders to provide feedback towards the statistics of a budget that meets the needs of the people and is in line with national policies and objectives.

Apart from that, the MOF is also actively conducting various engagement sessions with industry players and civil society groups, including tours to the states to hear feedback and suggestions.

He said Budget 2022 would focus on protecting and restoring lives and livelihoods, as well as rebuilding the country’s resilience.

Meanwhile, on the proposed interest payment exemption for the moratorium on bank loans, he said the government was still discussing the matter with banking institutions, as it involved commercial decisions between the banks, boards of directors, and shareholders.

On the proposal to increase the i-Citra withdrawal limit, Yamani said it needed to be refined and studied thoroughly, besides taking into account the question of balancing between current needs and the importance of retirement savings, with the country expected to experience an ageing population in the next 10 to 15 years.