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Friday, October 30, 2020

Ball in Muhyiddin's court, says DAP on budget talks


Pakatan Harapan has made it clear that the coalition is prepared to hold discussions with the government on Budget 2021.

According to DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke, the ball is now in Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's court.

“We have made our stand known. We made it clear that we are ready to discuss with the government. So now we wait for their response,” he told Malaysiakini.

Asked if Harapan would vote against the budget if given the cold shoulder, Loke replied: “It is too soon to tell.”

Yesterday, the Harapan presidential council urged Muhyiddin to immediately commence discussions with the opposition on Budget 2021, which is scheduled to be tabled on Nov 6.

The council said the budget should focus on the needs of frontliners, identify new strategies to develop the economy and assist those who have lost their jobs or income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although there has been no official response from the government, Harapan sources said several coalition leaders have held “unofficial discussions” with a “representative” from Perikatan Nasional on this matter.

The presidential council meeting yesterday agreed to demand for “direct and official” discussions with the prime minister.

“How can we talk to someone who does not directly come from the government? We need proper and official discussions,” said one source who attended the council meeting.

Another Harapan source said the coalition is willing to agree with the budget based on the advice of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“But we need direct negotiations with the prime minister. It is for the sake of the people. Please make it official,” urged the source.

Previously, several Harapan leaders made recommendations and suggestions for Budget 2021. This included Amanah's deputy president Salahuddin Ayub and strategic communication chief Khalid Samad as well as DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Salahuddin and Khalid wanted equal allocations for all parliamentary constituencies, including those under opposition control.

Salahuddin also suggested a loan moratorium for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Meanwhile, Lim has repeatedly pushed for the bank loan moratorium, which ended last month, to be extended and this was emphasised again following the Harapan presidential council meeting.

On the other hand, a PKR source said the party would push for certain institutional reforms if Muhyiddin is willing to heed to their demands.

“We need to propose something that is institutionally beneficial for all parliamentarians and not just a one-off policy. The Parliamentary Service Act could be one of them,” he added. - Mkini

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