Budget for 8 ministries passed in Dewan Rakyat so far

Another win for PN as MPs pass the expenditure under Supply Bill (Budget) 2021 for Mafi, KPLB and KeTSA without bloc voting

pic by BERNAMA

ALLOCATIONS for eight out of the 27 ministries have been approved at the committee level, signalling the strength of the Perikatan Nasional (PN)-led government at the lower house.

Yesterday, MPs passed the expenditure under Supply Bill (Budget) 2021 for the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry (Mafi), Rural Development Ministry (KPLB), and Energy and Natural Resources Ministry (KeTSA) without bloc voting.

Among Opposition MPs who took turns to query the ministers was Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who raised his concern on the lack of specific efforts to improve the economies of smallholders.

The former prime minister said the low-income group will continue to be in poverty if there are no effective efforts to promote modern agricultural practices which are able to generate more income for the social group.

“If the smallholders are left to cultivate their crops through methods of the olden days, they will not be able to improve themselves and will continue to be dependent on government subsidies.

“They cannot move forward as each of them own a small size of land, and we know that only large-scale farming could generate a high return.

“Do dismiss my concern if the PN government is implementing the ways to modernise the industry, but as far as I’m concerned, the smallholders are still ‘small’,” he said during the debate session for Mafi’s allocation.

Dr Mahathir also commented on Malaysia’s RM60 billion dependency on imported vegetables and fruits, which could easily be reduced through modernisation.

Additionally, he questioned the insufficient allocation for the ministry although it has been raised from RM500 million to RM1.4 billion in 2021.

Responding to the queries, Mafi Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee (picture) said several initiatives to spur modern cultivation are being drafted into the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

“Under the 12MP, Mafi has drafted measures to modernise the agriculture industry, including enhancing the implementation of the IR 4.0 and increasing automation.

“The ministry has also set aside RM60 million for the agro-food supply chain,” he said in his winding-up speech.

On the insufficient subsidy for paddy production, Kiandee said the Finance Ministry (MoF) has been notified early of the concern and will consider to include in a supplementary budget if necessary.

“We have informed the MoF early about the insufficiency to achieve the paddy production target in 2021. MoF will consider an additional allocation if our farmers could increase their productivity,” he added.

Mafi’s RM4.79 billion allocation was the first to be approved, where a bulk of it will be used for organic agriculture projects modernisation of fishermen vessels and supply-chain programmes, as well as for impactful and high-valued agriculture and livestock programmes.

The RM2.1 billion budget for KeTSA was also approved by a simple majority.

Among the significant utilisations under the ministry are cleaning rivers with rubbish and waste, island waste management projects in Johor and Terengganu, and preservation of natural resources through the TAHAP initiative.

During the debate session of the ministry, Bakri MP Yeo Bee Yin, who is the former Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change minister, questioned the unavailability of a new quota issued for the net energy metering projects to continue to invigorate the solar industry.

Today’s sitting will deliberate on the allocations for the International Trade and Industry Ministry, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, and Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry.

Read our earlier report

RM4.79b allocation for Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry approved