KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 – DAP and PKR have released their wish lists for Budget 2023 after meeting Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz ahead of the federal budget’s tabling on October 7.
Both Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties included measures related to health care in their proposals to the Ministry of Finance (MOF).
According to DAP’s Budget 2023 memorandum presented to MOF, the party wants investment in rural health care facilities in Sabah and Sarawak by upgrading the facilities, adding beds and occupancy, boosting transport capabilities, and increasing manpower and experts in rural clinics.
DAP – represented by Seremban MP Anthony Loke, Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin, and Damansara MP Tony Pua in their meeting last September 13 with Tengku Zafrul – also urged the government to “drastically ramp up” manpower in the public health care system, including addressing contract health care workers’ issues.
The party called for the expansion of coverage under the government’s mySalam health protection scheme for critical illness and hospitalisation benefits to include mental health assessment and care, including counselling.
mySalam, it said, should also be expanded to cover the middle 40 per cent (M40) of income earners beyond the current bottom 40 per cent (B40) population.
“Specifically, the allocation for psychiatry and mental health services needs to benefit psychosocial support services as well, such as those provided by Talian Kasih and NGOs such as Befrienders.
“Allocation should also be provided to train counsellors and psychologists specifically for domestic violence and gender-based violence victims and those who experienced trauma.”
DAP noted that Malaysia only has 25 community mental health clinics as of 2020, known as MENTARIs, as it asked for an increased number of such facilities.
“Provide at least RM45 million allocation to train additional medical professionals in the psychiatric services, with the aim to provide at least one clinical psychologist and one mental health nurse for each of the 45 public hospitals offering psychiatric services. Currently, there are only 15 clinical psychiatrists serving in the system,” said the DAP.
Overall, DAP’s Budget 2023 memorandum contained nine major proposals, with a major focus on assisting small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“For us to build back better in the post-pandemic era, we need to ensure the budget pushes the 12MP’s agenda of resetting the economy, while maintaining focus on progressive ideals of social security, wellbeing, inclusivity, and sustainability,” stated DAP’s memorandum.
PKR also met Zafrul last September 13 at the PH pre-budget meeting with MOF. PKR was represented by Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, Subang MP Wong Chen, and Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh.
“Unlike other parties, KEADILAN started our dialogue with the MoF differently by focusing on the fundamental fiscal problem of revenue,” Wong said in a statement today.
“On the revenue front, KEADILAN asked the government to ensure that the revenue projections for 2023 are accurate, true and fair. KEADILAN urged the government not to repeat previous mistakes of projecting revenue too optimistically or illogically.
“KEADILAN is very firm on this matter; a wrongful projection on revenue will not only disrupt operations of the government next year but also cause a negative cascading effect on the overall expenditure.”
PKR called for a progressive capital gains tax on shares and an inheritance tax, noting the recent spike in the cost of subsidies to RM77.7 billion.
The party presented to MOF a list of 12 economic, political, and social policies.
The health-related proposal in the list pertained to ensuring a full rollout of HPV vaccines for teenage girls in all schools.
NCSM recently published its own research study that estimated that more than 560,000 teenage girls across Malaysia missed out on their HPV vaccination, which prevents cervical cancer, from 2020 to 2022 due to school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in response last September 7 that the Ministry of Health (MOH) would budget for a catch-up programme next year, including procuring sufficient vaccine doses, to cover girls who missed their HPV shots.