Is The PN Government Intending To Extend The Emergency And Suspension Of Parliament Beyond 1 August With The Financial Guillotine Of Parliament’s Financial Powers?
The new emergency ordinance, which allows for Putrajaya to tap into Treasury’s consolidated funds without parliamentary oversight and scrutiny, is a cruel April’s Fool joke on Parliamentary democracy that grants the Prime Minister unfettered powers on the nation’s financial coffers. Knowing that by suspending Parliament, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government will need to reopen Parliament to seek approval of Supplementary Budgets, to sanction the additional spending over and above the 2021 Budget, the Prime Minister has chosen to bypass Parliament completely.
This is another act of treachery by PN against Parliament and the Federal Constitution. The nation’s tens of billions of ringgit can now be determined by one man instead of going through the check and balance system of parliamentary democracy. Parliament is the correct platform to check abuses of power, financial misappropriati on, and misuse of public funds for political purposes, just like the RM85.5 million allocation for Department of Community Communications (J-KOM) was slashed to RM40.5 million after protests from MPs.
This is an extremely dangerous power accorded to the Prime Minister through financially guillotining Parliament. Supplementary budgets can be legally delayed until the end of the year for Parliamentary approval. This means that supplementary budgets for additional spending made can still be approved by Parliament when the Emergency ends and Parliament reopens after 1 August 2021. By financially guillotining Parliament is the Prime Minister hinting that the Emergency and the suspension of Parliament can be extended beyond 1 August 2021?
Granting absolute financial powers to the Prime Minister may avoid having to answer embarrassing questions. For instance, why has the PN government debt ballooned as shown by Bank Negara figures for government gross debt issuance for Jan-Feb 2019, 2020 and 2021(without redemption) with a 60% increase of RM 11.5 billion for the first two months of 2021 compared to 2020 (under PH).
If such borrowings are genuinely meant for battling COVID-19 and to help the people overcome the economic recession, the opposition would not only support but may even seek additional and increased spending. Without parliamentary oversight, there is an elevated risk that any new spending made by this government would not be properly accounted for, especially ensuring that it benefits the people instead of cronies.
Lim Guan Eng