Anwar: Budget 2021 still needs review

The issues of emoluments of civil servants, operating expenses and especially the expenses for the frontliners are still defended by the Opposition


OPPOSITION leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture) maintains that Budget 2021 needs to be reviewed for it to be supported.

“I reiterate the call for the government to review Budget 2021. The Opposition only supports if it is really a budget to fight Covid-19,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“I am confident that we are able to present a better budget or amendment for the benefit of the people,” he added.

On Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz’s recent remarks that the government will not be able to pay the salaries of civil servants and assistance for frontliners if the 2021 budget is not approved, Anwar described it as bland and threatening against MPs.

“I think this is a bland and threatening statement as well as part of a plan to set aside the voice of the majority of MPs,” Anwar said.

He further said the issues of emoluments of civil servants, operating expenses and especially the expenses for the frontliners, as well as medical and health equipment, are still defended by the Opposition.

Meanwhile, political analysts believe despite “conditional supports” from MPs, the budget can still be passed provided that the government has enough majority.

University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute director Prof James Chin said the approval of Budget 2021 will go through the same process as last year’s.

“Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has more than enough MPs to approve Budget 2021 even with one or two majority, so the budget will definitely be passed.

“Between the first and final reading, the government will modify the budget to meet the needs of complaints of MPs,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

Chin added that as an example, the previous budget tabling by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government was approved easily despite political differences.

Last Tuesday, Barisan Nasional (BN) Backbenchers Club chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak said the party would only support Budget 2021 if two of its demands, which were a blanket moratorium on loan repayments until June 30, 2021 and one-off withdrawal of RM10,000 from the Employees Provident Fund Account 1, were met.

During a debate session on the Supply Bill 2021 last Monday, Anwar said the support for Budget 2021 was not unconditional as there were various issues surrounding the government’s financial plan.

Former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hoped that Budget 2021 will be modified in order to become more realistic, as the government’s debt may increase to RM1.3 trillion in order to implement it.

He also said the expectation of economic recovery next year is too optimistic as the two biggest contributors to government revenue, which are Petroliam Nasional Bhd and the tourism industry, are badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If the recommendations given by BN and PH are workable, I think the government can discuss further with both parties to avoid any miscalculated move,” Universiti Sains Malaysia Social Science School lecturer Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said.

“Government can either stand to their own version or review based on the reaction given, but the finance minister still has the final say to decide,” he added.

Meanwhile, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Institute of Ethnic Studies deputy director Dr Kartini Aboo Talib Khalid said the MPs have to negotiate and re-negotiate what is feasible at present.

“Later discussion will come to an end that is feasible within the capacity and capability of the government,” she said.

Read our earlier report here