Anwar confirms he told Opposition to let Budget 2021 pass first hurdle

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim promised that the Opposition would come back stronger to scrutinise Budget 2021 during the committee level debate from Monday. — Bernama pic
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim promised that the Opposition would come back stronger to scrutinise Budget 2021 during the committee level debate from Monday. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 ― Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he instructed his side’s lawmakers to allow Budget 2021 through the policy stage as he did not want to be seen as blocking aid and concessions announced by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

He said that while the decision was very difficult as Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz allegedly “evaded substantive fundamental issues” including the projection and revenue of the budget.

“What he (Tengku Zafrul) did was to announce additional grants, allowance to frontline workers, farmers, fishermen etc, and that complicates issues.

“I don’t want to be seen to be ignoring the fact that the minister has taken some measures, although he rejected the fundamental issues, he announced some measures which are more acceptable for the rakyat,” he told the press today.

Anwar then promised that the Opposition would come back stronger to scrutinise Budget 2021 during the committee level debate from Monday, saying the PN government should not consider this a victory yet.

“There is no guarantee we will approve on Monday when the committee level starts.

“We will certainly choose to reject and call for revision (of the budget),” he said.

Earlier, however, PKR vice president Chang Lih Kang wrote on Facebook that rejected Budget 2021 and would continue to do so at the committee stage.

“Today, the Opposition does not support this Budget, we have voted through a vote to reject it. It's just that we don't ask for a bloc-voting,” he said.

Budget 2021 was approved in the policy stage today after Parliament approved it via a voice vote when fewer than the 15 lawmakers needed to force bloc-voting rose to make their rejection known.

Just 13 Opposition MPs including former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu stood up to try and force a bloc vote.

Prior to the vote, Tengku Zafrul announced several concessions to demands from both sides of the divide including extending the loan moratorium for all B40 income earners and small businesses as well as allowing eight million EPF contributors to withdraw up to RM10,000 from their Account 1 in one lump sum instead of RM6,000 over 12 months.

This allowed Budget 2021 to be approved via a voice vote despite shouts from lawmakers ostensibly rejecting the federal spending plan.

Voting on Budget 2021 had come under extreme scrutiny as there was expectation that it could be rejected.

By convention, a rejection of the federal Budget is considered a successful vote of no-confidence against the ruling party and should be met by the resignation of the entire Cabinet.

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