Budget should not only look good on paper, experts say

by BERNAMA/ pic by TMR GRAPHIC

THE 2021 budget, which is seen by many as different and the most challenging and different compared to previous budgets, managed to overcome the first hurdle with it approved at the policy stage in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday through a majority voice vote.

Although it has to go through two more stages in the Dewan Rakyat before the largest budget in the country’s history is passed, to some extent it has given some light to the people to help them continue with their life and restore the country’s economy from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next step that the government has to take is to ensure that the  budget is not only “good” on paper, but also be able to achieve the desired objectives.

Economic analysts hope that a strong mechanism can be worked out to ensure  the allocation provided  reach the target group as planned in the 2021 Budget.

A lecturer at the School of Business and Economics, Universiti Putra Malaysia Business,  Associate Prof Dr Abdul Rahim Abdul Samad said this was important to ensure that the budget allocation would be more transparent, as well as avoid leakage.

This, he said,  is not only the responsibility of the government, but other parties or bodies should also be involved to ensure success of the mechanism.

“This is to ensure that what is in the budget will be really implemented and not just on paper.

“If consultation with stakeholders is conducted by the government before the 2021 Budget is tabled, it  should be continued after the tabling, periodically on short and medium term,” he told Bernama.

By doing so, he said, it would not only ensure Budget 2021 reaches the target group, but the government will also get additional information on other groups that could be left out, despite them also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abdul Rahim also said that all inputs obtained during the consultation session should be shared with the general public through special channels, like the Department of Community Communications (J-Kom), formerly the Department of Special Affairs (JASA).

This is in line with the objective of J-Kom which is to create a two-way communication between the government and the people as well as , to get the participation of other stakeholders to ensure integrity and accountability in managing the funds under the budget.

Meanwhile, a senior lecturer at  the Faculty of Management Economics, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Dr Norlin Khalid expressed the need for the government to provide a report on the budget, as being done by the Economic Stimulus Implementation and Coordination Unit Between National Agencies (LAKSANA) to monitor implementation of Economic Stimulus Package 2020 (PRE 2020).

He said this will ensure the 186 policy initiatives in the 2021 Budget that will be implemented achieve its objectives.

“This budget is the largest in the country’s history with RM322.5 billion allocated. If the government can provide documents in the budget reporting once a month or every quarter, it will definitely show the government’s transparency to the people,” he added.

He said it would also encourage the relevant agencies to continue the policy initiatives as planned in the budget.