KUCHING, Nov 7: The Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations president Datuk Richard Wee described the National Budget 2021 as a ‘Covid-19 budget’ to cushion the impact on vulnerable communities but falls short to meet the business and education sectors’ expectations.
While it was fair and good that part of the annual budget allocations was diverted to fund efforts to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Wee however viewed that the efforts lacked inclusivity unlike that of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government.
“We hope that the federal government will learn from the (Sarawak) state government’s inclusive approach in creating the budget with efforts and policies to take care of all sectors of society and community.
“The budget should portray the true sense of multiracialism and diversity of what Malaysia is recognised for with inclusivity and fairness for all,” he told DayakDaily when contacted today.
Observing that the RM322.5 billion budget with an expansionary of cash handouts for the B40 and M40 groups to help sustain the welfare of the people, Wee did not see much focus given to support the commercial or business communities particularly the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), food and beverage sector as well as tourism sector which were badly impacted by the pandemic as well.
“Budget being a budget cannot be specifically for Covid-19, as the national budget is for the entire nation for the coming year.
“Looking at the budget on its own, I believe that the government will address the Covid-19 issue and assistance for the lower and medium-income groups or the vulnerable communities. It is a good thing that they are being cared for.
“However, I don’t see much effort on direct assistance for the businesses or industries sector. As a whole, it is still acceptable I would say,” he said.
On the budget for education, Wee, who is also the Management Board of Kuching Chung Hua Middle Schools No. 1, 3 and 4 chairman, expressed disappointment with the budget for not clearly listing out the quantum of allocations for Chinese schools.
“Unlike the previous budget of the former government (Pakatan Harapan) where they listed out the amount allocated for every stream of schools including Chinese primary and secondary schools as well as Chinese Independent schools.
“So in that respect, I am disappointed. But hopefully, it is only a matter of presentation of the budget which did not outline the specific allocations,” he said.
Noting that the national budget did provide a fair bit of allocation for the Ministry of Education to take care of all the schools in Malaysia, Wee hopes that it would benefit all schools regardless of mediums and streams.
“I would urge the government to clarify this matter and hopefully give the Chinese community a fair allocation. If it is not included or done, I think the Chinese community will be very disappointed,” he added.
Wee also called on Chinese-based parties in the federal government to do their bit in urging the government to clarify the allocation for Chinese education as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, in tabling the National Budget 2021 yesterday (Nov 6), Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz revealed that the government today proposed the largest spending plan in the nation’s history, hoping to pave the road back from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The main goal of the budget, he said, was to improve the well-being of the people and business community and the country’s economic resilience.
The government has allocated RM322.5 billion for next year, with RM236.5 billion for operating expenditure and RM69 billion for development expenditure as well as RM17 billion under the COVID-19 Fund.