Government may have to present a RM30 billion contingency finance bill at an emergency Parliament meeting on 21st December to authorise government expenditures for the first six months of next year before the 2000 Budget is passed

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Monday): The Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, may have to present a RM30 billion contingency finance bill at an emergency Parliament meeting on 21st December 1999, a day after the election of the Speaker and the swearing in of the 193 new MPs, to authorise government expenditures for the first six months of next year before the 2,000 Budget is passed.

This is because the 2,000 Budget is unlikely to be passed until May or even June, meaning all processes of legislation to include passage by both Houses of Parliament as well as getting the Royal Assent and government gazette.

The first time the Mahathir administration asked for a contingency finance bill to cover the government expenditures for the first few months of the following year as the next year’s Supply Bill could not be passed by the end of the year was in 1990, when general election was held on October 20-21, 1990.

When the eighth Parliament convened in early December 1990, the government introduced on December 11, 1990  contingency finance bills to cover government expenditures for operating and development purposes for the first four months of the following year as the 1991 budget was presented to Parliament only on December 14, 1990 and it was not passed by the Dewan Rakyat until the second half of January 1991.

This time, with a shorter four-day week for Parliamentary meetings, Parliament will take an even longer time to pass the 2,000 budget, even if it is presented word-for-word the same as the 2,000 budget presented to the previous Parliament on Oct. 29, 1999 before dissolution and general election.

There was no debate when the government presented the contigency finance bill was presented on December 11, 1990 as the 1991 budget was to be presented immediately after, to be followed by a full budget debate.

The situation is completely different this time, for the contingency finance bills, amounting to some RM30 billion, would not be immediately followed by the 2000 budget and a full budget debate, as Parliament may not meet until one or two months later.   This is why there should be the fullest debate this time on the contingency finance bills, of at least three to four days.

The first working meeting of the tenth Parliament is either in January after the Hari Raya holidays  expected on January 9/10, 2000 or the Chinese New Year holidays beginning on 6th February 2000.

As Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 9 (1) requires 28-day notice to be given for each Parliamentary meeting, the earliest the new Parliament could be convened to start its working meeting taking into account the Hari Raya holidays  is January 24, 2000.  The problem here is that Parliament would have to be adjourned after two  weeks of meeting for the Chinese New Year holidays without being able to pass the 2000 Budget.

The likelihood of the new Parliament starting its first working meeting at the end of February (either February 21 or 28, 2000) after the Chinese New Year holidays  is greater.

The first substantial business of the new Parliament would not be the 27-day debate  on the 2000 budget but the debate on the Royal Address, and this would mean that it would be April or even May before the Dewan Rakyat could pass the 2000 Budget.  After that, it has still to be passed by the Dewan Negara and be given the Royal Assent.

During the parliamentary  debate on the 2,000 Budget on 1st November 1999 before it was aborted as a result of dissolution of Parliament, I had called for a
RM1 billion special allocation for the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and the 1,200 Chinese primary schools to be paid out in the next five years in recognition of their contribution to nation-building.

Each of the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary Schools should be allocated RM1 million a year and each Chinese primary school allocated RM100,000 from this special allocation, over and above their usual allocations.

I congratulate the new Cabinet team which has been appointed to take over the Education portfolio, namely Tan Sri Musa Mohamad as Education Minister, Senator Datuk Abdul Aziz Samsuddin and Datuk Hon Choon Kim as Deputy Education Ministers and Dr. Mahadzir Mohd Khir as Parliamentary Secretary.

I hope the new Cabinet team on education could ensure that in the implementation of the contingency finance bills for the first half of next year, there would be a commitment to make proportionate payment of  this special allocation of RM1 million a year for each Chinese Independent Secondary School and RM100,000 for each Chinese primary school in the country.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman