Include opposition’s input in State Budget

Date:

KUCHING: The government has been urged to include opposition representatives in the process of drafting the State 2022 Budget.

Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) presidential council member Baru Bian said while the power rests fully on the chief minister and the state financial authority to approve the 2022 budget, suggestions and recommendations by the opposition should be considered.

“There is a need for transparency and accountability when drawing up the budget, given that there is no avenue for members of the state assembly to scrutinise and question the budget.

“Given that there is no avenue for debating the budget, it would be a magnanimous gesture if the chief minister could invite opposition representatives to offer suggestions and recommendations on matters that should be considered for inclusion in the budget.

“In this challenging situation we are facing; it would cost nothing to listen to views from all sides. At the end of the day, it is still his prerogative to decide on the best way to spend our public funds,” he said in a statement on Thursday (Aug 5).

The Ba’kelalan assemblyman said if the chief minister decided to give the opposition representatives some voice, it would be viewed in a positive light by all Sarawakians.

“The chief minister will be deciding on how the people’s money will be spent, and great care must be taken to ensure that public funds are not politicised and allocations are not made for the purpose of advancing the political agenda of the ruling party.

“In this critical time when all our attention and resources are focused on the fight against Covid-19, the budget should be directed towards protecting the lives and livelihood of the people,” he said.

On Wednesday, State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar said the 2022 State Budget can be approved without requiring a sitting of the DUN.

He said this was stipulated in Section 11 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) (Sarawak) Ordinance 2021 which said approval of the DUN was not needed.

“ln respect of the 2022 State Budget, the need to get an approval from the State Legislative Assembly is immaterial,” he said.

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