By Durratul Ain Ahmad Fuad & Karina Imran
KUALA LUMPUR: Approval on emoluments for civil servants would be the first issue to be discussed at the Parliament session – the first under the government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before Budget 2023 is tabled again.
“Of course we have to clear the emoluments (for civil servants) first on Dec 19 so that our public servants don’t need to worry.
The session on Dec 19 will be the first for the 15th Parliament session.
“And then give us another month or so, then we will table a new budget or a revised budget,” Anwar said during his first press conference as the Prime Minister yesterday.
Anwar, 75, took the oath of office as the 10th Prime Minister before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah at Istana Negara yesterday.
Budget 2023 was tabled on Oct 7 by the then finance minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz with a total allocation of RM372.3 billion.
Three days later, on Oct 10, Parliament was dissolved to make way for the 15th General Election (GE15).
Mini budget, partial approval
Putra Business School Associate Professor Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff said besides approving the emoluments for civil servants, the government also has the option to present a mini budget for the first six months, just like what happened in 1999 and this will give more time for the unity government to embed the new initiatives promised in their manifesto in the subsequent budget for the remaining six months.
“In 1999, they (the government during that time) presented a mini budget. So, the focus for the 2023 mini budget is to address the immediate pressing issues related to high cost of living and inflation rate,” he told Bernama.
Meanwhile, Tengku Zafrul also posted on his social media that under Article 102(a) of the Federal Constitution, even if Budget 2023 has not been passed, Parliament can approve part of the year’s expenditure.
He said this means the government can call a Parliament session before Dec 31, 2022 to approve part of Budget 2023 that has been presented before.
“If there is no partial approval, operations in January and February will be affected. The government still needs to implement the maintenance of public services, welfare assistance and allocating subsidies.
“Therefore, the Federal Constitution provides room for the government to obtain the approval of part of the budget from Parliament before the re-presentation of Budget 2023,” he said.
Revising Budget 2023
Meanwhile, Sunway University Economics Professor Yeah Kim Leng said the new government is expected to revise Budget 2023 and the 12th Malaysia Plan midterm review to reflect as much as feasible Anwar’s coalition campaign promises while accommodating or balancing those tabled earlier.
“Given the short time frame to approve the budget before the end of the year or the latest early next year, it is inadvisable to start from scratch,” he added.
However, Tengku Zafrul said the government has time to prepare a new budget and present it again. This same scenario happened in 1999, where Budget 2000 was presented on Oct 29, 1999, but Parliament was dissolved on Nov 11, 1999 and the general election was held on Nov 29, 1999.
Accordingly, a special Parliament session to approve half of Budget 2000 was held on Dec 20, 1999 and it was fully presented again on Feb 25, 2000 for parliamentary approval.
“The same thing may happen this year,” he said.