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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — The government should consider shaving the salaries of its ministers by 30 per cent to reduce unnecessary expenses on Budget 2021, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad suggested today.
The former prime minister described the RM322.5 billion Budget tabled in Parliament last week as unrealistic as it would not help fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We don’t need such a big budget if it’s not impacting the social living standards. We can cut down.
“The government today has made so many ministerial posts in every ministry. But they can’t carry out their duties because of the Covid-19 situation,” he said while debating Budget 2021 in the Dewan Rakyat.
He said the government’s imposition of travel restrictions have taken a heavy toll on low-income groups.
“But there are still people who get a high salary which is way more than their needs of living. To add, these people don’t get cuts but instead the government provides them with RM500 allocation when they are supposed to concentrate on groups who lost their jobs and can’t eat daily.
“I propose that all ministers should take a 30 per cent pay cut. I don’t think they will starve if their salary gets deducted,” the Langkawi MP said.
Dr Mahathir said that Malaysia did well in handling the Covid-19 pandemic but added that other countries fared better and urged the government to learn from them to improve quarantine measures.
“I think we did well, but other countries did better.
“Here, we need to quarantine someone for two weeks to see if they got Covid-19. But with today’s innovation, we can know if someone tested positive within an hour or immediately. No need to quarantine them for two weeks with these technologies,” he said.
He said that removing unnecessary quarantines can free up those who are well and not infected with the coronavirus to be productive and contribute to the economy, especially those in the tourism industry.
“Of course these innovations are expensive, but the government should help with the cost, because these people can contribute back to the economy and the government can recover what they spend later,” he added.
Dr Mahathir said lockdowns should be limited to clusters and those within the vicinity.
“Lockdowns are effective but a killer to the economy. We see the government so easily extending these lockdowns but it really affects the poor and businesses.
‘Those who are OK, they don't need MCO. Yes, there might be a risk, but try to also not let the economy deteriorate,” he said.