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PM Muhyiddin says 2021 budget ensures people’s well-being, while Anwar calls for concrete plans to revive economy

 PM Muhyiddin says 2021 budget ensures people’s well-being, while Anwar calls for concrete plans to revive economy

This handout photo from Malaysia's Department of Information taken and released on November 6, 2020 shows Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (left) and Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (right) posing for pictures with the national 2021 budget after unveiling at the parliament in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: Malaysia Department of Information/AFP/Nazri Rapaai)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the national budget for 2021 was formulated based on the principle of protecting people and businesses for them to rebound from COVID-19. 

It would also help them to secure a more resilient and sustainable future, he said. 

However, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was of the opinion that the budget failed to spell out a clear picture on how to stimulate and develop the economy which has been badly affected by the crisis. 

The 2021 budget was tabled by Minister for Finance Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz on Friday (Nov 6) in parliament. A total of RM322.5 billion (US$77.9 billion) has been allocated for the budget, the biggest ever in the country's history. 

There have been fears earlier that Members of Parliament would block the passage of the budget and turn it into a no-confidence vote against Mr Muhyiddin. But the crisis appears to have been averted after the king urged MPs from both sides of the political divide to support the Bill.

READ: Malaysia’s economy projected to grow up to 7.5% next year, says government as it tables expansionary 2021 budget

In a statement issued after the budget was tabled, Mr Muhyiddin explained that the budget was the manifestation of “caring for the people”.

“Although the country is in a difficult and challenging situation, the welfare of the people will not be abandoned. The government is determined to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic is tackled effectively to ensure the well-being of the people, the survival of businesses as well as economic resilience," he said. 

The prime minister added that the government was aware that people were most worried about their health and source of income to support a sustainable lifestyle.

This handout photo from Malaysia's Department of Information taken and released on November 6, 2020 shows Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin taking pictures as Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (not pictured) delivers the speech on the national 2021 budget at the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: Malaysia Department of Information/AFP/Khirul Nizam Zanil)

“In this regard, the government will not compromise on ensuring the people are always protected. This is clearly reflected from the budget which has given the highest allocation for the people in comparison with the national budgets presented previously. 

“This 2021 budget will continue the momentum achieved after the implementation of the four economic stimulus packages worth RM305 billion,” he said.

Mr Muhyiddin said specific measures would provide financial support to the business and economic sectors and improve the business ecosystem. 

“I am confident that Malaysia will continue to remain a destination of choice for foreign and domestic investors," he said. 

READ: KL-Singapore HSR - Malaysia intends to continue with project given the ‘positive multiplier effect’ on economy, says finance minister

BUDGET LACKS PLANS FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY: ANWAR

This handout photo from Malaysia's Department of Information taken and released on November 6, 2020 shows Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim at the parliament for the tabling of the 2021 budget. (Photo: Malaysia Department of Information)

Mr Anwar, however, pointed out that there were several weaknesses in the 2021 budget and stressed that the main weakness was that there were no plans for economic recovery.

“It is a big weakness. It (budget) did not address how to stimulate and advance the economy. 

"It did not address the issue of unemployment and helping workers who have lost their jobs as a result of this pandemic," he said in a video posted on his Facebook. 

The RM500 and RM1,000 handouts are only temporary and not the solution, he added. 

He added that among other issues he would raise during the debates include the RM80 million allocation to revive the Special Affairs Department (JASA) which was previously disbanded by the Pakatan Harapan government. "When compared to the allocation for the disabled and poor people, (they only receive) a small sum," he said.

Debates on the budget will begin on Monday and are scheduled to end on Dec 15. 

Source: CNA/kd
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