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Malaysia's parliament approves 2023 budget at policy stage

Malaysia's parliament approves 2023 budget at policy stage

Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the country's Finance Minister, is seen here in parliament on Mar 9, 2023. (Screengrab: YouTube/Parlimen Malaysia)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s speaker of parliament declared the 2023 Budget passed at the policy stage on Thursday (Mar 9).

The budget was passed with a majority voice vote.

The 2023 budget is the first budget tabled by the government led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the country’s finance minister.

When the vote was called, most of the lawmakers from parties within Mr Anwar’s unity government were present. In comparison, only a handful of MPs from the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition were seen in parliament.

PN leaders, including Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) president Muhyiddin Yassin as well as Parti Islam Se-Malaysia president Abdul Hadi Awang were not present in the  parliament when the vote was called.

In his speech wrapping up the budget debate on Thursday, Mr Anwar reiterated the government’s commitment to reduce national debt and aid those in poverty.

He also rebuffed comments by opposition MPs that some of the policies were unfair towards residents living in states controlled by PN.

“Believe me, I will ensure that the entire government machinery is focused on eradicating poverty from this year on,” said Mr Anwar.

“They (PN) were in government for three years. Look at the three budgets that they presented, the budget which I have tabled is way better than any of the budgets they put forth, including for the (opposition controlled) states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis and Kedah. So to say we are evil is just not right.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) confirmed that Mr Muhyiddin had been detained after he was summoned to give his statement in connection to investigations into the Jana Wibawa programme.

It added that Mr Muhyiddin will be charged with several counts of corruption as well as money laundering on Friday.

With the budget now approved at the policy stage, debate at the committee stage will take place from next Monday to Mar 28, according to a calendar of events posted on the parliament website. During the committee stage, the budget for each ministry would be scrutinised in detail.

If passed at the committee stage, a third reading of the budget will be held in the Lower House before it goes to the Senate and is then submitted to the Malaysian king for royal assent.

The expansionary budget of RM388.1 billion (US$87.50 billion) was first tabled by Mr Anwar on Feb 24.

It is the largest in the country’s history, surpassing the RM322.1 billion that was tabled for the 2022 budget under former prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration.

“This administration is taking an expansionary approach for the 2023 Budget in an effort to support economic growth so that its benefits can be enjoyed by all citizens,” said Mr Anwar in his speech during the tabling of the budget.

He outlined that out of the RM388.1 billion, RM289.1 billion will be allocated for operating expenditure and RM99 billion set aside for development expenditure - including RM2 billion reserved for contingencies.

A slew of measures aimed at lowering the cost of living amid high inflation as well as more progressive taxes were also announced by Mr Anwar.

Among the measures include proposing lowering income tax for the middle-income group while increasing taxes for the rich.

Source: CNA/as(aw)


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