Country’s finances highlights of this week’s Parliament sitting
zdewan / Amin

by BERNAMA/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

ISSUES on the country’s economy and expenditure were among main topics discussed by the Parliament this week, apart from the anti-party hopping law, as it wrapped up its fifth week of sitting.

After the motion of thanks for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s royal address, which was debated for 10 days by 129 Members of Parliament, was passed on the first day of sitting this week, the august house proceeded with the tabling of three bills, one of which was the Supplementary Supply Bill (2019) 2020 to apply for additional expenditure for services rendered in 2019 totaling RM7,005,753,850, which was then approved last Wednesday after it was debated for two days.

Another was the Supply (Reallocation of Appropriated Expenditure) Bill 2020 which was tabled for the second reading on Thursday to apply for additional expenditure for rendered  this year amounting to RM7,184,083,200.

The third bill was on temporary measures to reduce the impact of  COVID-19,  which was tabled for the first reading. The bill is aimed at supporting the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (Prihatin), the Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package for Small and Medium Enterprises (PKS) and Short Term Economic Recovery Plan.

The issue on the ceiling of additional allocation  was also raised by members of the house during the debate, to which Deputy Finance Minister 1 Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said no ceiling limit was set for additional allocation as it depended on the current need of each ministry.

Abdul Rahim also gave the government’s commitment to ensure that additional allocations for each ministry were provided not more than once a year and only in small amounts.

Other issues touched by the members of Parliament on the country’s finances was on the balance of RM14.51 million in the COVID-19 Fund and the august house was told that it would be used for special assistance, like for funeral expenses and loss of income, as well as to assist individuals who are in quarantine and admitted to the ward for COVID-19 treatment.

As for the Musa’adah COVID-19 fund, the Dewan Rakyat was told that the amount of contribution made to the fund as of last July 30 was  RM269.8 million.

Issues on Tabung Haji continued to be raised this week, and often led to a heated debate, and this week the Parliament was told  that the government was prepared to consider setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate allegations of misappropriation in the agency.

Also raised in Parliament this week was the  motion on the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill, with several government backbenchers calling for it to be withdrawn, and on the anti-party-hopping law, which the government said would require amendments to the federal Constitution first before such as law could be enacted.

Other interesting issues discussed in Parliament this week included the new ceiling price for three-layer mask, which has been reduced to RM1 per piece, effective tomorrow, to reduce the people’s burden following the government’s decision in making it compulsory to wear face masks in public places since last Aug 1.

As in previous weeks, the standard operating procedures (SOP) to curb the spread of COVID-19 are being enforced to ensure smooth sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.

Noting the existence of a new COVID-19 cluster  in the northern parts of the peninsula, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun suggested that members of the house with symptoms or who returned from areas placed under the Targeted  Enhanced Movement Control Order (TEMCO) to undergo screening for the virus.