FORMER finance minister Lim Guan Eng today proposed a “unity budget” with an RM31.4 billion Covid-19 shield to save jobs and livelihoods as the pandemic threatens commerce and industry.
Lim said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin should initiate a consultation process with the opposition for a unity budget ahead of tabling the Perikatan Nasional government’s maiden spending plan on November 6.
This would ensure the fulfilment of the king’s aspirations to provide economic aid to Malaysians and to contain the spread of Covid-19, the DAP secretary-general said today in a statement.
The 17.1% contraction of the gross domestic product in the second quarter of the year and the human resources minister’s projected unemployment figure of one million before the end of the year underline the economic crisis facing Malaysians, he said.
He said the cost is insignificant compared to the RM305 billion spent on the government’s various economic stimulus packages that have failed to have the desired multiplier effect of jumpstarting the economy.
He said the shield’s first action would be to raise the monthly welfare aid of RM200-300 to RM1,000 as the prime minister had promised to do in August.
“That will cost RM12 billion and will provide an immediate safety net for the unemployed.”
Meanwhile, the proposed blanket loan repayment moratorium would cost Putrajaya RM6.4 billion and help eight million people compared to targeted assistance for only 1.4 million borrowers.
“Many have complained that (targeted assistance) does not benefit them but the financial institutions as it merely extends the loan repayment period thereby raising the interest payments,” he said.
The third step would offer recruitment incentives over a period of two years of RM500 a month to employees and RM300 a month to employers to encourage them to hire local workers, under the Malaysia@Work scheme proposed by Pakatan Harapan in Budget 2020.
“Expanding this scheme to cover 600,000 Malaysian workers and their employers will cost RM13 billion,” he said.
This will also help the more than 500,000 young people who contribute significant to the 4.9% unemployment rate,” Lim said.
The government, he said, should also shift its focus from managing debt and the fiscal deficit to borrowing money to lift the economy out of a recession.
It must do away with the obsession of controlling the deficit to protect sovereign credit ratings and instead borrow more money to save jobs, businesses and livelihoods, Lim added.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has advised the MPs to support the budget bill as funds are urgently needed for the country’s coronavirus response efforts.
Parliament’s rejection of Budget 2021 could be treated as a sign of no confidence in the prime mimister.
Umno urges govt to allow EPF Account 1 withdrawal
Withdrawals could also be spaced out over a period of time instead of in one lump sum, said the Umno Youth chief.
“The fact is that people are crying out and worried about their difficulties in the midst of Covid-19 which directly impacts their lives at this point,” he said o Facebook.
He said Umno Youth will formally convey the people’s wishes to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz soon.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT