D-day for Budget 2021 as it undergoes final reading and vote

KUALA LUMPUR: An eventful day is expected in Parliament on Tuesday (Dec 15) as Budget 2021 undergoes its third and final reading before it is voted on.

A small group of protestors gathered on the road leading to the Parliament building from about 8.30am, adding to the unfolding drama.

This comes after lawmakers are scheduled to wrap up debates and vote on the final two allocations for the Education and Higher Education ministries at the committee stage.

So far, allocations for 25 out 27 ministries have been passed at the committee stage.

The Opposition had called for bloc voting on allocations for more than five ministries, including the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Department, but failed to garner sufficient votes each time.

The highest number the Opposition achieved through a bloc vote was on Dec 2, with 104 votes against and 110 for the International Trade and Industry Ministry’s RM1.2bil allocation.

However, all eyes will be on the Opposition to see if they will call for a bloc vote at the budget’s final third reading, which is expected to occur after 2pm on Tuesday (Dec 15).

A defeat of the budget at this stage would not lead to a collapse of the government but would be akin to a no-confidence vote against the Perikatan Nasional administration.

There has been some rumblings among the Opposition following calls by political veterans Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for MPs to vote based on their conscience should a bloc vote at the third reading is called.

Budget 2021 was tabled on Nov 6 and attempts by Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar to call for a bloc vote at the end of policy stage debates on Nov 26 failed when only 13 MPs stood up in to trigger a bloc vote, two short of the required 15 under Parliament’s Standing Order.

Source: the Star