Budget meeting extended

Necessary move: Azhar said the meeting may be further extended to ensure that full parliamentary democracy process is fulfilled to appease all parties.

PETALING JAYA: The Dewan Rakyat meeting is being extended for another two days until Dec 17 to allow debate on the Budget 2021 at the committee stage.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Seri Azhar Azizan Harun said if necessary, this could be further extended to ensure that “full parliamentary democracy process is fulfilled to appease all parties”.

“The Dewan Rakyat meeting has now been extended to Dec 17. The Budget 2021 debate at committee stage was initially supposed to end on Dec 15. However, we have extended this by two days and if need be, we will extend the debate at committee stage.

“The daily hours of the sitting will still be until 2pm as advised by the Health Ministry and in accordance to the meeting that I had with all the party chief whips on Nov 5.

“We will see how many ministries can be slotted in every day from Monday onwards and we will decide on the extension of the daily hours if necessary, ” said Azhar when contacted.

On Thursday, the first Budget under Perikatan Nasional was passed at the policy stage with a voice vote.

The RM322.5bil federal budget, the nation’s largest-ever, was passed despite an attempt by some Opposition MPs to call for bloc voting.

Bloc voting requires 15 MPs to stand up for the process to be allowed but only 13 MPs stood up on Thursday, allowing for the Budget to be passed with a simple voice vote.

Debate on Budget 2021 will now go on to the committee stage, with a vote to be called at the end of each ministerial reply to the points raised by the MPs on the allocation of the individual ministries.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said eight days were allotted for MPs to debate Budget 2021 at the policy level and another 13 days at the committee stage.

“(From) now until Dec 17, MPs are free to debate this budget, ” he said.

The passing of Budget 2021 has come under much public scrutiny after opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim threatened to reject this if it was not amended to meet their proposals.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has a thin margin in the Dewan Rakyat with 112 MPs out of 222 seats in his coalition after Gerik MP Datuk Hasbullah Osman passed away earlier this month.

The other vacancy is Batu Sapi whose MP, Datuk Liew Vui Keong of Parti Warisan Sabah, died in October.

However, on Thursday, Anwar did not stand up with the other 13 Opposition MPs, including former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when they tried to force a bloc vote.

He later said that he had appealed to other Opposition MPs to let Budget 2021 through at the policy stage as he had taken note of Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz having accommodated some of their demands.

“This is to avoid bloc voting so we can still continue (debating the Budget). There is no guarantee that it won’t be approved.

“Next Monday, when Budget 2021 is at the committee stage, it will be further deliberated at length. We will certainly choose to reject and call for a revision if it is deemed necessary, ” he said.

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