Dr M questions rise in budget for some

Ex-PM also questions where the PN administration will obtain RM322.5b to support the ‘gigantic budget’


ALLOCATIONS for some departments were increased up to 520% under Budget 2021, said former Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture).

He also said expenditure for developments of ministerial offices can be “temporarily postponed”, while the government spends to curb the virus and tackle economic downturn.

“Allocations for some departments were also increased up to 520%. Office development can be postponed. Some RM160 million for the Ministry of International Trade and Industry office, RM231 million for the Ministry of Home Affairs office and others,” said Dr Mahathir during his budget debate in Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

“The allocation for the PM’s Department was increased to RM11.7 billion from RM7.9 billion in 2020, and RM1 billion (allocation) for special projects from RM100 million previously.

“What is the need to spend RM125 million for Kompleks Angkasapuri. We have to postpone this project,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also questioned where the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration will obtain RM322.5 billion to support the “gigantic budget”.

As the government did not introduce any new tax to bear some of the cost for the budget, Dr Mahathir said the government’s revenue would decline, especially as the country is still plagued with Covid-19.

It also means that it will be a deficit budget for next year.

“If there are not enough funds, the government would have to take on debt. The government’s debt will increase to RM1.3 trillion,” said Dr Mahathir.

The government also did not have to impose statewide movement restrictions as it hinders economic growth and disables those who are not affected by the virus from working.

“We have to acknowledge that the working environment and ways for one to gain income has changed. The government needs to find other ways,” he said.

Among the measures he proposed to reduce government spending is to reduce the amount of ministers and their deputies as some are not able to do their duties due to the virus. This can be done without affecting the administration, he said.

Dr Mahathir added that PN’s focus to defend its weak position as an administration had affected their priority to overcome the virus.

The country is now faced with the second and third waves of the virus due to the Sabah polls which had an exorbitant cost and also had cost many lives, he said.

“From the record we have seen, I do not think PN can contain the Covid-19 virus,” he said.

Separately, on the calls made by Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak on the extension of the blanket loan moratorium, Dr Mahathir said extension should be given if it benefits the country.

“This does not involve the government because it is not the government’s money that is not being paid back, it is the banks’.

“If the banks think that it is something that will benefit the country, then I think they should extend the moratorium.

“I reserve myself and my party from supporting or going against PN’s Budget 2021. I hope the proposals brought up in the Dewan Rakyat will be taken into consideration in Budget 2021,” he said.

The Langkawi MP said in a press conference after the debate that he reserved his vote because the debate on the bill is still ongoing and he is not confident that the current budget could help in economic recovery.

He further explained that his debate was focused on the implications of Covid-19 and measures to solve some of the problems caused by it, especially on the economy.

“I did not criticise the government too much because we hope in the current situation, we can minimise party politics and prioritise recovery in the country,” he told reporters in Parliament.

Read our earlier report here