KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — The fourth week of the Dewan Rakyat sitting ended with the house approving the 2021 Budget at the policy stage after a two-week debate, followed by four days of the wind-up session by the relevant ministries.
The wind-up session on the budget debate began on Nov 23 and involved 27 ministries with the last being the Ministry of Finance as the ministry responsible for tabling the Supply Bill 2021.
The bill, tabled by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz on Nov 6, was passed with a majority voice vote.
Efforts by the Opposition and Independent members to call for bloc voting failed, after they did not meet the minimum number of Members of Parliament required for a vote. Only 13 of the MPs got up, while they need a total of 15 people to get up to allow the process to take place.
Throughout the debate on the bill, issues that were raised by MPs, from both the government and opposition blocs, revolved around aid that could increase the people’s cash flow and businesses, as well as direct financial assistance to help those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Various issues raised by the MPs, including on the loan moratorium and the withdrawal from Account 1 of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), were answered this week with the announcement on the “many good news” for the people by Tengku Zafrul.
“We may not be perfect but we listen…and for the coming months, we will continue to listen, we will continue to refine the government assistance according to the COVID and economic situation, InsyaAllah,” said Tengku Zafrul when wrapping up the 2021 Budget debate.
On the moratorium issue, the Dewan Rakyat was informed that it will still be implemented for the target group, with the application made simple, while for EPF withdrawals, the i-Sinar programme, is now open to all the eight million contributors with the maximum withdrawal amount increased to RM10,000.
The reality is that the 2021 Budget is designed at ensuring the people’s well-being, business continuity and economic resilience.
Apart from that, the issue on the re-establishment of the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) that was proposed in the 2021 Budget was also raised this week with the Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah explaining that it will be rebranded as the Department of Community Communications (J-KOM) with different roles and functions.
According to Saifuddin, the RM85.5 million allocated for Jasa will also be reduced.
Other issues raised included on the COVID-19 vaccine where the Dewan Rakyat was informed that the government is targeting 70 per cent of the people to receive the vaccine in the first quarter of next year.
The Dewan Rakyat was also informed on corruption and power abuse cases involving civil servants with a total of 2,287 investigation papers opened from 2016 until last September, and also on amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 where the proposed amendments will be tabled to the states early next year.