Supplementary Supply Bill passes Dewan Rakyat stage

Lawmakers approved the bill which seeks a sum from the federal consolidated fund for additional ministerial expenses in 2019

pic by TMR FILE

THE government’s RM7 billion Supplementary Supply Bill was voted through the Dewan Rakyat yesterday after it was debated at the committee stage.

Lawmakers approved the bill which seeks a sum from the federal consolidated fund for additional ministerial expenses in 2019. The bill will now go through Dewan Negara before it receives royal assent and is written into law.

Deputy Finance Minister I Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri (picture) tabled the bill for a second reading on Tuesday and at the committee stage yesterday.

Both the government and Opposition MPs brought up several points during the debate, including suggestions to cap future additional spending as a measure to make ministries more fiscally disciplined.

The suggestion brought forward by Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (Barisan Nasional-Pontian) was accepted by Abdul Rahim.

However, the latter said the government had no plans to impose a ceiling as different ministries would require varying amounts of added provision each year.

Teo Nie Ching (Pakatan Harapan (PH)-Kulai) raised the need to have a special parliamentary sitting for any additional allocation exceeding 2% of the original budget.

To this, Abdul Rahim said the approved supplementary budget stood at 1.9% of the initial budget in 2015, 1.9% in 2016, 1.1% (2017), 2.4% (2018) and 3.6% (2019).

“Nevertheless, these are great suggestions which can be considered further,” he added.

Wong Chen (PH-Subang) also suggested the preparation of quarterly management accounts to address the issue of additional allocations, to which the deputy minister agreed as it would help ensure fiscal discipline.

In his winding-up speech, Abdul Rahim said the additional budget was for expenditure in 2019, which should have been approved but could not be passed that year, and thus brought forward to this year.

“This budget is something which has to be approved as it has already been spent by the previous government and I am helping former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to do what is necessary,” he said.

The Supplementary Supply (2019) Bill 2020 was sought for use as allocation for statutory funds amounting to RM1.1 billion, Treasury General Services (RM1.76 billion), the Election Commission (RM15.65 million), Treasury (RM762.94 million) and Foreign Ministry (RM13.93 million).

The allocation was also for the Ministry of Economic Affairs (RM39.42 million), Ministry of Primary Industries (RM40.35 million), Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries (RM313.28 million), Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources (RM58.28 million), and Ministry of International Trade and Industry (RM77.15 million), among others.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, when winding up the debate at the committee stage yesterday, said a nationwide snap election amid the Covid-19 pandemic would cost the government RM1.2 billion.

“Given that there are measures needed to be in place due to the pandemic, the cost would be higher than the previous estimation of RM700 million,” he told the lower house.

He said the cost for the 14th General Election held about two years ago was about RM500 million.

“I was made to understand by the Election Commission that if the government is to have a nationwide snap election now, during Covid-19, it would cost about RM1.2 billion as all standard operating procedures need to be followed,” he added.

The five recent by-elections had cost the government about RM12.95 million in total.

Takiyuddin said the Cameron Highlands by-election cost about RM3.5 million, while the Semenyih by-election cost RM1.8 million.

Other by-elections including Rantau, Sandakan and Tanjung Piai cost RM1.83 million, RM3.32 million and RM2.68 million respectively.