Budget 2021: Putrajaya should have given more allocations as catalyst for economic growth, says Baru

Baru Bian speaks to reporters in this file picture taken in Kuala Lumpur April 26, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Baru Bian speaks to reporters in this file picture taken in Kuala Lumpur April 26, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUCHING, Nov 9 — The federal government should have given more allocations as a catalyst for economic growth in Budget 2021 considering that the people are facing hardships and the economy has taken a hit from Covid-19, said Selangau MP Baru Bian.

On the revenue side, Baru said he echoed the concern of several economists and analysts that the forecast of gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between 5.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent was unrealistic, given that the national economy was experiencing a recession, like so many countries.

“The indications including declining collection of corporate and personal taxes, expected lower foreign direct investment (FDI) and domestic direct investment (DDI), greater fiscal deficit ratio speak of decreased revenue,” he said in a statement when commenting on the 2021 National Budget.

Baru, who is also Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said the huge cuts in the budget for the Health Ministry was unjustified and unacceptable.

“Our Health services are already stretched in facing the pandemic and to cut their allocations for other health needs is to put unnecessary extra pressure on our medical workers, not to mention the patients in need to care,” he said.

Baru, who is Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) presidential council member, pointed out that the total allocation of RM4.5 billion for Sarawak was only RM100 million more than the RM4.4 billion allocation for 2020.

However, he said the responses given by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs and leaders over the national budgets of 2020 and 2021 had puzzled him.

“The then parliamentary whip for GPS criticised the PH government’s 2020 budget for Sarawak and Sabah as being only 17.1 per cent of the total allocation for development expenditure.

“The Chief Minister even complained that the 7.8 per cent allocation of development expenditure to Sarawak was ‘considered unjustified and very much skewed towards Peninsular Malaysia’.”

Baru said in spite of the presence of several full ministers from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Cabinet, Sarawak and Sabah’s share of the development budget was 13.9 per cent this year.

“However, instead of complaining, the Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the PN government for the 7.3 per cent of total development expenditure allocated to Sarawak, saying the budget has been ‘fairly allocated’.

“In this time of the pandemic, we would expect a significant increase in allocation, considering the size of Sarawak compared to Peninsular Malaysia, but the CM has chosen change his tune this year.”

Baru said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had planned to construct the Trans Borneo highway in preparing for the moving of the Indonesian capital to Borneo island, and approved RM600 million for the road from Tawau to Semenggaris for 2020 but the project was cancelled by the PN government. — Borneo Post

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