PETALING JAYA: Lawmakers will be kept busy with a long haul Parliament meeting from Monday (Oct 7) until Dec 5, with the Budget 2020 and other crucial Bills expected to be debated and passed.
The star of the show is the Budget 2020, which will be tabled on Friday (Oct 11).
With debate on the Budget fixed from Oct 14 to Nov 28 - more than half the meeting - lawmakers will have the opportunity to give their input on the matter.
Budget 2020, according to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, is expected to focus on the people's well-being by creating more jobs and small businesses as well as push for women's participation in employment.
It is also aimed at preparing ahead for the 12th Malaysia Plan, which kicks off in 2021.
He had also mentioned that the government would not be proposing an increase in taxes, including inheritance and corporate taxes, which would certainly be a relief to many.
Undoubtedly, the issue of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which was abolished last year to make way for the Sales and Services Tax (SST), will resurface during debate following calls to reinstate the consumption-based tax.
The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) had recently urged the government to reintroduce GST but at a lower rate of 3% instead of the original 6%.
In response, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that while it would be "difficult" to reintroduce the GST during the Budget next week, this could be done later.
Pakatan Harapan lawmakers have been congregating at a retreat over the weekend (Oct 5 & 6), where they were briefed on the Budget and the country's economic situation as well as the coming Bills.
DAP's Klang MP Charles Santiago, who attended the briefing, said there was a need to push Malaysia in a different direction and to move the economy from mass production into the digital economy.
The country, said the National Water Services Commission chairman, also needed to focus on treating water resources as a national strategic resource.
"If we don't, then there is going to be a huge price to pay in the next two to three years. So, the Finance Ministry should look into this," he said.
Santiago said he also hoped that the government would set aside some allocation for small and medium enterprises (SME) to weather through the economic difficulties.
This meeting will also see the two main political coalitions - Barisan Nasional and Pakatan - having to face each other off during the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election, with the polling day falling on Nov 16.
While this means that many lawmakers may have to miss out on the debate to campaign, some may use their speeches at the Parliament to raise issues and get political mileage for the by-election.
Among the crucial Bills to be tabled and debated is the Political Funding Bill, which will complement initiatives to make Malaysia corruption-free.
Other Bills include the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), which was tabled in Parliament for its first reading in July.
The IPCMC Bill will see the setting up of a commission with disciplinary authority over any misconduct by police personnel, including the Inspector-General of Police.
Making a "comeback" is another attempt to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, which was rejected by the Senate last year.
With the one-year cooling off period under Article 68 of the Federal Constitution now over, the Bill to repeal the Act will be tabled in Dewan Rakyat again.
The National Defence White Paper, which will chart Malaysia's defence plans and policies for the next decade and beyond, will also likely make its way to Dewan Rakyat.
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