Parties submit Budget recommendations

PUTRAJAYA: Political parties have presented their list of recommendations for Budget 2021 and urged the government to incorporate the proposals to help the people weather the economic storm.Four days before the Budget is to be tabled in Parliament, Umno, PAS, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Pakatan Harapan had separate engagement sessions with Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to offer their input.Budget 2021 will be tabled on Friday.

Among the top items are for the loan moratorium to be extended to ease the people’s financial burden.

Pakatan, Umno and PAS had proposed an extension of the moratorium, with the Opposition suggesting that it should last until March 31.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, who headed the party’s delegation, said 130 proposals were presented to the minister.

“We also proposed that the government allow for Employees Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal, people-friendly development and creation of job opportunities, ” he said.

As for the proposed EPF withdrawal, Ahmad said while this should be allowed, the government could impose a limit on the amount that contributors could withdraw.

Pakatan secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said they submitted six recommendations and besides the moratorium extension, they also proposed an increase in the Health Ministry’s resources for Covid-19 and non-

communicable diseases.

It also called on the government to expand social protection, safety nets and welfare payments for the vulnerable and unemployed.

“We hope our recommendations will be incorporated into the Budget. Pakatan is committed to working with all parties to combat Covid-19 to save the people and the economy, ” Saifuddin said.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Budget 2021 was crucial in mapping the future of the country’s economy as “it will determine if the economy can be saved”.

“There should be additional expenditure and if there are insufficient resources, the government will have no choice but to borrow, ” he added.

Amanah president Mohamad Sabu said it was also important for the government to check on the implementation of the Budget.

“It has to be done efficiently to avoid leakages and wastage, ” he said.

PAS’ Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari, who was among the party’s five lawmakers who met with Tengku Zafrul, said the government should also set aside allocations to boost infrastructure, especially the Internet and connectivity.

“Students, including those in rural areas, mostly have to study online now because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is important to ensure that Internet connection is efficient, ” he said.

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