Thursday, March 4, 2021

Like Anwar, Najib sets 2 conditions for budget support

Their calls reflect closer political ties in their common opposition to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

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Najib Razak today echoed PKR president Anwar Ibrahim on the matter of support for the 2021 budget, saying it would be subject to amendments and the fulfilment of several demands.

The former prime minister said the government must allow EPF contributors to make one-off withdrawals of RM10,000, and extend the bank loan moratorium to six months including for the M40 middle income group.

“The support from me and my friends is subject to these conditions being met,” he told the Dewan Rakyat today.

Yesterday, Anwar said the opposition would not easily support the budget despite a royal reminder about the importance of ensuring financial allocations for the battle against Covid-19.

“EPF and the moratorium are serious issues. If the government wants us to consider supporting the budget, these issues must be given priority. If not, the budget cannot be passed,” Anwar said during his speech debating the budget.

The calls of these two leaders reflect their closer political ties in their common opposition to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Last month, Najib confirmed that he had urged Barisan Nasional MPs to support Anwar in the PKR leader’s bid to overthrow Muhyiddin’s government.

The former prime minister also wrote to the palace to express his support for Anwar, alongside Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

There had been concerns of an attempt to block the budget and turn it into a no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin following Anwar’s failure to prove his majority support from MPs.

Any failure to pass the budget would lead to snap polls, a scenario against which top health officials have repeatedly warned for fear of a spike in Covid-19 clusters nationwide.

The budget tabled by Tengku Zafrul Aziz last week had announced among others that the B40 lower income group could get either a three-month freeze on their repayment of bank loans, or a reduction of their instalments by half for six months.

The government also said it would allow a maximum of RM6,000 in withdrawals from EPF, at RM500 every month in the next one year.

Both Najib and Anwar had called for a blanket extension of the six-month bank moratorium which was implemented at the height of the movement control order this year. The moratorium ended on Sept 30.

They also called for a higher EPF withdrawal limit, with both saying the government could issue bonds to allow more cash for contributors.

Meanwhile, in his speech today, Najib said he agreed with Anwar that the format of the budget was confusing.

He said the allocations were “all over”, and that it was difficult for laymen to understand each allocation.

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