Kuala Lumpur – The second week of the 14th Parliament is the start of the debate on the 2021 Budget which saw several demands made by the government and opposition blocs.
The debate started by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) on Monday who stressed that the budget would only be supported if it really help the people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic by paying attention to the withdrawal of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and the extension of the loan moratorium.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (BN-Pekan) expressed that Barisan Nasional (BN) will support the 2021 budget on condition that the one-off withdrawal of up to RM10,000 from Account 1 of the EPF and the loan moratorium extension were approved.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Langkawi) and three Independent MPs representing the Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) party, on the other hand, reserved their stand on whether to support or reject the budget and hoped that the constructive suggestions made will be given a place in Budget 2021 before it was approved.
Other MPs who debated the Supply Bill 2021 also questioned the allocation of more than RM80 million to revive the Special Affairs Department (JASA) which was considered irrelevant at a time when the country was struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, they suggested that the allocation be used to purchase health equipment and supplies to fight COVID-19.
Most MPs, whether from the government or the opposition bloc wanted the 2021 budget to be amended in accordance with their respective demands to help the people face the impact of COVID-19.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) said the finance minister only needed to make a ministerial statement regarding the EPF and the moratorium in his winding-up speech before the voting process begins.
“I hope that will be done, (and) the statement on the one-off withdrawal of the EPF Account 1 will be included,” he said when met by Bernama.
Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Rashid Hasnon said the EPF one-off withdrawal and the extension of the moratorium could be added to the 2021 budget by simply including them in the finance minister’s winding-up speech as it does not involve government spending.
“Yes, it can be done, because it does not involve government money, the minister can even announce it outside the hall,” he told Bernama when contacted.
Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz is scheduled to wind up the the debate on the Supply Bill 2021 at the policy level during the fourth week of the sitting.
Meanwhile, a commotion erupted in the Dewan Rakyat sitting when Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (GPS-Bintulu), while debating the Supply Bill 2021, said that ‘DG (Health director-general) takut mati’ (is afraid of dying).
Tiong had questioned why Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah did not go out into the field to see for himself the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, instead only holding daily press conferences via live telecast.
The shouting match saw RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) was ejected from the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday.
Another commotion broke out when the controversial statement was raised again yesterday which ended with Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng being showed the exit and suspended for five days from attending the sitting.
The Parliament sitting for this week sits for only four hours, from 10 am to 2 pm daily from Monday to Thursday, with only 80 Members of Parliament – 41 from the government and 39 from the opposition and Independent – are allowed to be in the House at any one time. – Bernama