KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which is led by Umno, on Tuesday (Nov 10) said it will only support the 2021 budget if two conditions are met, piling pressure on the government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
BN is a member of Tan Sri Muhyiddin's Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, but has been making strident demands from the government since coming to power eight months ago.
BN's 42 MPs, said Umno MP Najib Razak, will only support Budget 2021 if the government allows a blanket moratorium on loan repayments till June 30 next year.
Its second condition is for the government to allow Malaysians a one-off withdrawal of RM10,000 (S$3,268) from their pension fund Employee Provident Fund (EPF), said Najib, the newly-elected chairman of the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club.
"The support of my friends and I are subject to the approval of these two matters," former premier Najib said in an hour-long speech in Parliament while debating Budget 2021 on Tuesday. "Our support on this budget is conditional."
Najib's remarks echoed the position of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who told Parliament on Monday (Nov 9) that the Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition might not support Budget 2021 if the concerns of its lawmakers were not addressed.
The PH three-party coalition has 91 MPs.
When unveiling Budget 2021 on Friday (Nov 6), the government said it won't extend the blanket pause on bank payments next year, but would allow only those having trouble to pay up their loans to apply for moratoriums or reduced instalments.
The government would also allow EPF account holders to take out RM500 a month from their Account 1, up to a maximum of RM6,000 in 2021.
PM Muhyiddin has control of just 113 lawmakers including BN's 42 MPs, in the 222-strong Lower House.
He will thus have to accede to their demand or meet them halfway, as he would otherwise risk the collapse of his government if it fails to get approval for next year's expenditure.
Parliament is set to vote on the 2021 budget on Nov 23.
BN consists of Umno with 39 MPs, the Malaysian Chinese Association (two MPs), the Malaysian Indian Congress (one MP). BN also has an East Malaysian ally in Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (one MP).
While BN is pushing for its demands, other parties in PN are in full support of the budget.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, which is led by Mr Muhyiddin, Parti Islam SeMalaysia, Sabah's Star and the Sabah Progressive Party said the budget should be fully supported as it helps Malaysians amid the coronavirus pandemic that has decimated jobs.