Budget too big, cut costs instead, says Dr M

(FMT) – Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says there is no need for the 2021 budget amounting to RM322.5 billion to be so big, adding that Putrajaya could cut costs instead to save funds.

Mahathir (Ind-Langkawi) said one way to cut costs was to trim the Cabinet since there were too many ministers, deputy ministers and ministerial-level positions.

“Many have been appointed but they have not been able to work because of the virus (Covid-19). We can reduce the number of them without affecting the administration,” he said during the debate on the budget proposals today.

Mahathir said certain expenditures could be temporarily delayed in favour of spending to fight the pandemic and reviving the economy.

One example was the RM125 million allocated for the Angkasapuri complex which, he said, was not needed and should be delayed.

He said some departments even received a 520% increase in allocations, adding that the RM231 million and RM160 million allocated for the buildings and offices of the international trade and industry as well as home affairs ministries, respectively, could be delayed.

“I’m aware that this budget has allocations to help those who are hopeless, but the aid proposed is insufficient and not holistic. Expenditures for development can be reduced or postponed,” he said.

Mahathir also questioned how Putrajaya planned to raise the funds to finance the budget, saying the finance minister did not mention the taxes that would be introduced to bear the costs.

“In this time of Covid-19, the economy has declined badly, so the government’s revenue would have also decreased. This budget will surely have a deficit, but the government seems to not care about this deficit,” he said.

He said the government still had to pay RM39 billion in debt sustained by the Barisan Nasional government, while Putrajaya’s debts could rise to RM1.3 trillion with this budget.