KKMM’s budget approved after JASA gets cut

pic by BERNAMA

LAWMAKERS have passed the allocation for the Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM) under Budget 2021 after the proposed allocation for the Special Affairs Department (JASA) parked under the ministry was reduced by more than half.

The lower house took a bloc vote to pass the budget, with 107 MPs voted in favour of the reduced allocation, while 100 opposed.

Prior to the debate, Deputy Finance Minister I Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri (picture) tabled a motion to slash RM45 million from Jasa’s initial RM85.5 million allocation previously announced under the Supply Bill (Budget) 2021, leaving the department with RM40.5 million.

He submitted the proposal with an amendment for an allocation of RM164.15 billion to RM164.11 billion in Clause 2 of the Supply Bill 2021.

Abdul Rahim said the revised allocation will be utilised for the emolument of 500 contract staff under the department.

“The department will be used to strengthen the digital community and to encourage and empower the community,” he said.

He added that the department — which will be rebranded with different roles — will serve as a platform to enhance digital skills and boost local talents, as well as improve local knowledge on cyber security.

He said the objective set for the department is in accordance with the Federal Constitution and National Principles, which is to empower the local community from the grassroots level.

After the approval, five MPs tabled a separate motion to cut the allocation completely, but it failed to get enough voice votes from the floor.

The motion was proposed by Maria Chin Abdullah (Pakatan Harapan [PH]-Petaling Jaya), Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau (UPKO-Tuaran), Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai), Fuziah Salleh (PH-Kuantan) and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Independent-Jerlun).

The multi-million ringgit allocation for the department became a contentious issue under Budget 2021 given the department’s profile as a propaganda unit.

KKMM Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah recently said the government had agreed to rename JASA as Department of Community Communications and will be entrusted with different roles and functions.

During a budget debate for the Finance Ministry, Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz announced that the allocation for the department will be reduced and channelled to other allocations.

According to the government’s official website, JASA was initially established to develop the community at the grassroots level through communication between the government and the public. The department was then dissolved under the previous PH administration.

Meanwhile, MPs also passed the budget for the Youth and Sports Ministry and Human Resources Ministry in simple voice votes.

Read our earlier report

Jasa’s allocation to be slashed by RM45m