PETALING JAYA: Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today revealed that Pakatan Harapan party leaders Lim Guan Eng and Mohamad Sabu had been keen to push for a bloc vote on Budget 2021 in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday but that he had requested against it.
In a statement, Anwar said the move was to allow MPs to scrutinise the budget in detail, adding that MPs had the right to question the budget’s new amendments and if any cuts were made.
He added that this included the impact of the budget on the country’s finances, on taxi drivers, canteen operators, and the mechanisms used to withdraw from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
“The loan moratorium from financial institutions also needs to be looked into,” Anwar said.
He said the opposition still had the opportunity to make a stand on the budget, including a bloc vote during the second vote on the budget at the committee stage.
Yesterday, Anwar was widely expected to get opposition MPs to vote against the bill but only 13 MPs stood up to seek a bloc vote, when at least 15 are needed for the process.
Anwar, the Port Dickson MP, added that yesterday there was an unprecedented move to make several amendments to the federal budget. “I need to state that in the history of the Malaysian Parliament, the budget has never been amended in such a way. This is a sign of Perikatan Nasional’s readiness to do anything to stay in power,” he added.
Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, in winding-up the budget debate yesterday, announced that there would be an automatic moratorium on loan repayments for people in the B40 category and SMEs, while those in M40 category would only be required to make a self-declaration without any documentation to get their moratorium extended.
The minister also announced that EPF’s i-Sinar programme would be expanded to cover all contributors who suffered income losses, with the withdrawal limit raised to RM10,000.
The Dewan Rakyat resumes on Monday for the committee stage of the budget debate. Voting is expected to be held on Dec 15.