KUALA LUMPUR — Pakatan Harapan (PH) is ready to offer its views and opinions to help tackle the political and health crises that the country is currently facing, DAP’s Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng said today.Lim, who is DAP secretary-general, said the coalition is willing to consider accepting the government’s invitation to be part of the Economic Action Council.

“I want to state our stand in Pakatan Harapan, that if the government is really sincere about discussing the importance of the country including its direction, an invitation (for PH) to be a member of the Economic Action Council can be considered and accepted.

“We are willing to contribute constructive ideas for the sake of the people so that we can be united in tackling the political and health crises, as I have mentioned earlier,” Lim said during his debate on the Budget 2021 Bill in Parliament.

They are, among others, economic, health, education and the country’s political landscape.

He however told the government not to politicise these issues by setting up the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) with an allocation of RM85.5 billion.

“But of course we hope that they don’t play politics by setting up Jasa with the allocation of RM85.5 billion.

“This should be rejected. And we (at PH) are ready to stand together with all MPs who want to reject the revival of Jasa,” said Lim.

In Budget 2021, the Perikatan Nasional government allocated RM85.5 million and justified that it was necessary to repopulate the unit with qualified staff.

Jasa was set up as Barisan Nasional’s propaganda unit, and was dissolved in 2018.

Before it was disbanded, Jasa was allocated RM30 million in the 2018 Budget under the leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak. – MALAY MAIL

Budget 2021 does not address crises, says Guan Eng

“Take the health crisis for instance. With Covid-19 affecting the country now, why give it a 4.3% increase in allocation, when last year’s budget was (increased) 6.6%,” said Lim during the Budget 2021 debate in Dewan Rakyat today.

“The increase in health budget during a non-Covid-19 time is higher than during the pandemic. And more than that, there were cuts to pharmaceutical items under the Ministry of Health,” said the Bagan MP.

Lim, a former finance minister, said the other crises which Budget 2021 failed to address was economy, political, education and confidence.

“In this regard, the government should extend the loan moratorium to all instead of applying a targeted approach,” said Lim.

He said the targeted approach only helps 445,000 businesses while an automatic moratorium is applicable to eight million Malaysians and companies.

“The targeted approach doesn’t even help 10% of the people,” said the DAP secretary-general.

Lim said Budget 2021 also failed to assuage the various political problems plaguing the Perikatan Nasional government.

“Going by what Najib Razak (Pekan-BN) said earlier, I wonder if the BN ministers have given their feedback on this budget. Or if the budget is even approved by the cabinet before it was tabled last week,” said Lim.

Earlier, Najib said BN would support Budget 2021 only if the government agrees for the loan moratorium be extended to June 2021 and EPF withdrawal be enabled in one lump sum instead of over 12 months.

Lim said the opposition was willing to assist the government under such “extraordinary” times and should be invited to the National Economic Council.

He also questioned why Budget 2021 had allocated RM85.5 million to revive government propaganda unit Jasa, when the money was needed elsewhere.

“As a result of the lockdown, our students have only gone to school for four months. But when you look at this budget, the increase in allocation (for education) is just 1% compared to the overall 8% increase for the total budget.

“To top it off, there is even a budget for Jasa. Is this necessary?” said Lim. THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT