Opposition won’t support Budget 2021 if concerns not addressed, warns Anwar

KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Harapan may not support Perikatan Nasional’s Budget 2021 in Parliament if the concerns of its lawmakers are not addressed, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has warned.

“As I have raised earlier on the EPF and the bank loan moratorium, these are serious questions. If they want us to consider passing the Budget, they will need to prioritise these matters. If not, the Budget will not be passed.

“I want to hear answers from the Finance Minister as a minister but not a banker, ” he said during his speech while debating Budget 2021 in Parliament on Monday (Nov 9).

Anwar said Opposition leaders were keen to support Budget 2021 but argued that certain changes needed to be made.

He also reminded the Dewan Rakyat of the King’s decree calling for unity and cooperation among lawmakers to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We want to pass this Budget quickly so that we won’t burden the public, frontliners or civil servants – don’t make an assumption that it will be so easy.

“The Finance Minister and the Prime Minister must know that the Budget, in its current form, which will impact the public, will not be so easily passed. So, I call upon the Finance Minister to study all proposals to manage Covid-19-related issues, ” he said.

Among the proposals that the government should reconsider, said Anwar, is transferring RM19bil earmarked as capital expenditure under Budget 2021 towards the Covid-19 fund.

“This is central because everyone knows, including the Royal Decree, that this is a Covid-19 Budget, which needs to solve the problems faced by the rakyat, ” he added.

He also criticised the RM85mil allocation to the Special Affairs Department (Jasa), describing it as an allocation to create propaganda and should be instead transferred to the Covid-19 fund.

He also questioned why a one-off grant of RM8.6mil was channelled to NGO Penggerak Komuniti Negara, which is under the purview of the Local Government and Housing Ministry.

“Speaker, this is unprecedented. A one-off grant to Penggerak Komuniti Negara without any details? But just to ensure that the needs of the minister and her respective political circles are met?” he said.

Anwar also called on Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz to review the projected government revenue and economic growth for 2021 as mentioned in Budget 2021.

“Where did the Finance Minister get such a high and great forecast? Is it to satisfy certain political appetites to ensure that we can achieve such a confident growth?

“Forecasts may not be accurate I understand and there are usually mistakes, but forecasts need to be realistic.”

During the tabling of Budget 2021 last Friday (Nov 6), Tengku Zafrul said the economy is projected to recover with a growth of between 6.5% and 7.5% next year.

However, Anwar disputed this, saying that the World Bank’s economic outlook best projection of growth would average at 5.35%.

He also questioned why the RM3bil allocation for Covid-19 vaccines, which was touted by Science and Technology Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, was not included in Budget 2021.

He said the government must be more transparent over the matter.

“I’m worried because it seems there is manipulation of figures in the Budget, ” he alleged.

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