PETALING JAYA: The re-tabling of the postponed Budget 2023 should only be done by the new government, and not the caretaker government under caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) said the re-tabling, debate and eventual passing of the postponed Budget 2023 in both houses of Parliament should only be done via the new government.
The institute noted that with the ongoing political deadlock, looming concerns over the re-tabling of Budget 2023 are quickly becoming the centre of attention.
Concerns were further heightened when Ismail announced he would convene a special Parliament session to table a budget for civil servants’ salaries if the government is not formed by year-end.
IDEAS cautioned that continued delays in the formation of government would negatively impact not only the country’s political stability but subsequently its economic recovery as well.
It reiterated that the caretaker government has limited powers. “They are to exercise an administrative role and (have) functional responsibilities,” it said in a statement today.
“However, if this current situation is not resolved and there is a critical need for tabling a budget for civil servants’ salary, then a set of clear conditions needs to be put in place,” it said, adding this is to prevent the proposed budget from having financial implications that could bind the new government.
Such conditions could include, for example, that the caretaker government should not propose increases to salary and staff.
“Had the previous Parliament passed Budget 2023 tabled in October, the caretaker government would have been permitted to utilise consolidated funds from the budget under Article 102(a) of the Federal Constitution.
“With no formal budget to be relegated, the early dissolution presents a difficult situation to the caretaker government which does not have authority to withdraw money from the consolidated fund,” it opined.
IDEAS CEO Tricia Yeoh said it was clearly irresponsible of the previous administration and current caretaker to abruptly dissolve Parliament three days after tabling Budget 2023.
This posed a risk on the government’s fiscal expenditure in 2023, chief of which are the current concerns over civil servants’ salaries, she added.
“The budget, which directly affects the rakyat, ought to have been made the priority and should have been approved before dissolving Parliament, to safeguard the rakyat from the uncertainties of a general election held at the end of the year,” Yeoh said.
Moving forward, a clear provision on caretaker responsibilities should be put in place to prevent such a crisis caused by the post-election political impasse.
“There should be clear procedures for the activation of Article 102(b) which appears to allow a vote on credit or vote on account for situations of urgency. A vote on credit extends the supply for the year, while a vote on account allows limited or conditional expenditure for the first few months of the year.”