Budget needs to be debated before Parliament dissolved

KUALA LUMPUR: It will take a maximum of 33 days to discuss Budget 2023 after the Supply Bill is tabled in Parliament on Oct 7, says Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun.

He said current parliamentary Standing Orders provide for a maximum of 13 days for the federal budget to be debated at the policy stage in the Dewan Rakyat.

“Normally, I would give seven or eight days for the policy stage,” said Azhar in a special interview at his office in the Dewan Rakyat.

For the committee stage, said Azhar, the Standing Orders provide for a maximum of 20 days, but I would usually give it 10 to 12 days.

He said if Parliament was dissolved while Budget 2023 was debated and passed, the newly-elected government would have to table a new federal budget in a fresh sitting.

Budget 2023 is set to be tabled on Oct 7, three weeks earlier than the initially scheduled Oct 28 date.

Speculation is rife that Parliament could be dissolved immediately after Budget 2023 is tabled, paving the way for the 15th General Election.

Azhar said Parliament could be dissolved at any time and it was the prerogative of the Prime Minister to advise the King.

“His Majesty can consent to the dissolution on the advice of the Prime Minister, but the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has absolute power to reject the advice to dissolve.

“That’s one of His Majesty’s absolute powers,” he added.

Azhar said government spending under the consolidated fund, which covers the salaries of civil servants and pensions, among others, could still be disbursed if Budget 2023 was not passed before the dissolution of Parliament.

Citing Article 98 of the Federal Constitution, he said these were expenses under the consolidated fund, which also covers compensations for loss of office, gratuities, all government debt, and monies to satisfy any judgment or awards by the courts.

He also cited Article 100 of the Federal Constitution, which governs provisions under Article 98.

“All expenditures to be met from the consolidated fund, which are not charged on the consolidated fund, shall be included in the Supply Bill.“This means expenditure charged to the consolidated fund doesn’t have to be in the Supply Bill. You can just continue paying it,” he added.The Dewan Rakyat meeting will run for 32 days from Oct 3 to Nov 29.

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