By Nur Fatihah Irdina
GOMBAK, 15 November 2020: A virtual conference on “Budget 2021: Moving Towards Recovery” kickstarted with a stimulating discussion and an opinion exchange focusing on how to effectively combat COVID-19 in a challenging economic environment.
Involved in the discussion were two notable speakers, Prof. Dr. Jomo K.S. of Khazanah Research Institute and Noor Amin Ahmad, the Member of Parliament for Kangar.
The event’s moderator, Aiman Syafiq posed ground-breaking questions regarding the purpose of Budget 2021, being the largest budget allocation proposed by the Malaysian government since 2000.
Questions raised revealed that the budget allocation managed to address the plight of the B40 group to which most of them are largely afflicted. The insufficient budget allocation directed to the group has led to government mistrust amongst the people.
Prof. Dr. Jomo said, “The economy alone is not the only crisis we face, but there is also a rising mistrust amongst the people and the government.”
Jomo also highlighted the importance of education to B40 group.
“Despite the fragile economy, education must prevail and make it accessible to all. I have found that only 6% of students in Malaysia have access to laptop.
Considering the advancement of public transportation that serves public interest such as bus rides for students who reside at the inlands, it would also be an ideal change in these trying times,” shared Prof. Dr. Jomo.
The matter regarding budget allocation delved deeper into disparities that voiced out the hardship individuals catering to the B40 group must endure.
“These people who receive government assistance such as Rancangan Makanan Tambahan (RMT) are faced with a higher degree of food deprivation during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Noor Amin said.
“What they face is unexpected so when they receive family budget plans which is most of the time not enough to bear the entire family, they resort to tightening budget usage or not using it all for fear of not having enough pocket money to survive in the next coming weeks.”
Noor Amin further said that intact solutions must be first and foremost prioritised instead of creating creative destructions that can potentially prolong our already dwindling economy because the goal is to come out of the pandemic in an economically stable environment, not just to merely wipe out the virus.
The two-hour virtual conference conducted in Bahasa Melayu concluded with the two panelists hoping to see more Malaysians involved in a healthy discussion as this to propel a forward-thinking nation.
It was conducted by Virtue IIUM alongside the Centre for Islamic Economics IIUM, Secretariat of Political Science, and Bachelor of Economics Student Council. ***
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