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JOHOR BAHRU, Nov 7 -- Budget 2021 tabled by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz yesterday is viewed as an extension of the four economic stimulus packages introduced previously by the government to drive the economy and safeguard the people’s well-being amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suhana Mohamed, a senior lecturer of finance at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Pasir Gudang’s Faculty of Management and Business, said it was, at the same time, one of the most difficult national budgets in the government’s effort to ensure the economy progressed and returned to normal.
“I view Budget 2021 as a difficult budget (to formulate) as we are facing an unseen enemy (COVID-19). We actually began facing COVID-19 at the end of 2019, but we started to really fight it only in March 2020.
“We have spent very much by launching four economic stimulus packages from the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN) to the National Economic Recovery Package (PENJANA), and I see Budget 2021 as an extension of these previous packages,” she said when met by reporters after being a guest on radio station JOHORfm’s Budget 2021 Special Discussion programme here yesterday.
In view of the people’s reduced income, Suhana said the government must steer the economy to ensure the rakyat’s well-being.
She said while being in a fairly comfortable situation so far, this was the time for the government to use its funds and give back to the people although it would reduce the national income this year and in 2021.
“Like it or not, the government must give a bigger budget allocation; and for Budget 2021, the government has done something out of the box, beyond economic theories and against the grain whereby we are spending more than our revenue,” she said.
On the Employees Provident Fund Account 1 withdrawal facility of RM500 a month up to RM6,000 for 12 months, Suhana regarded it as the government listening to and caring about the people’s lot.
“Although the people cannot withdraw as much as they may want, at least the government listens, cares and gives those who need it an opportunity to withdraw something…. In my view, this is the best for the people,” she said.
On the government’s commitment to implement transportation infrastructure projects such as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project, she said it was very important for the government to do so at present to stimulate the economy not only in the cities but also other areas along the train route.
Meanwhile, human resource senior lecturer at the same faculty, Thahira Bibi TKM Thangal, described Budget 2021 as “the people being cared for by the government”; hence the people, particularly the corporates and civil servants, should give their best following this in order to stimulate the economy that had shrunk.
“Budget 2021 includes upskilling and reskilling programmes. The reskilling is especially for workers who were laid off as they require alternative means to give themselves the skills set to move forward while upskilling refers to value adding to existing skills,” she added.