BN maintains conditional support for Budget 2021

The conditional support depends on the approval of 2 matters, namely a bulk withdrawal of RM10,000 from EPF and loan moratorium extension

pic by BERNAMA

BARISAN Nasional (BN) voiced its conditional support for Budget 2021 as it proposed for the government to approve the extension for loan moratorium and allow for a one-off withdrawal of RM10,000 from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Account 1.

The coalition’s Backbenchers Club chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) said the loan moratorium should be extended until June 30, 2021, to lessen the burden of borrowers impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic including those in the middle 40% income group.

He also reiterated his call for the government to allow a bulk withdrawal of RM10,000 from EPF Account 1 as it could help those in need of cash pay off debts or utility bills.

“This budget was made during extraordinary times and it is reasonable for some amendments to be made because of the extraordinary circumstances.

“BN’s stand in this matter is for the government to approve a one-off withdrawal of RM10,000 from EPF Account 1 and for the loan moratorium to be extended until June 30, 2021.

“My support depends on the approval of these two matters. In conclusion, on behalf of BN, we support the budget, but it is a conditional support,” he said in his debate of the Supply Bill 2021.

Under the budget which was tabled last Friday, it only allows individuals to withdraw RM500 from EPF Account 1 for up to a year with a maximum of RM6,000.

Najib said RM10,000 can enable individuals who have lost their jobs during the pandemic to start a new business venture or purchase a motorcycle to generate side income.

“These could not be achieved if they only get RM500 a month,” he said.

The Pekan MP also voiced his disapproval towards the Perikatan Nasional’s decision to increase allocation for its propaganda unit, Special Affairs Department (JASA).

He said the additional funding should instead be used to provide safety equipment for the people, especially when there is a global health crisis.

“The government needs its communications unit to protect its policies, so that they will not be misunderstood or taken out of context from other parties.

“However, it is difficult to accept the increased allocation for JASA when there is a crisis where funds are needed for the people’s safety.

“I can accept it if the allocation is used to buy face masks or hand sanitisers for the people, or given to parents to replace the Supplemental Food Plan for children, but I cannot accept the suggested allocation of RM85.5 million for JASA,” he said.

In his speech during the tabling of the bill last week, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz had said that an allocation of RM85.5 million will be given to JASA.

The former prime minister also urged the government to expedite cash assistance worth RM1,000 to the people in Sabah, especially Bantuan Prihatin Nasional’s recipients, as their situation has gotten worse following a spike in Covid-19 cases in the state.

“The people in Sabah need assistance now, not next year, because Sabah had the longest Conditional Movement Control Order and is the most affected state from the third wave of Covid-19,” he said.

Read our earlier report here