pasca bajetUUM ONLINE: The 2021 Post-Budget Forum is relevant in highlighting the role of educational institutions in helping the Malaysian government find the best means to understand and find solutions to develop the country's economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dato' Dr Ahmad Bashawir Abdul Ghani said that the budget recently tabled clearly showed the overall economic recovery plan after receiving negative effects from the pandemic that hit the world.

According to him, the 2021 Budget was designed across four main themes with all of them centred on the creation of a better government.  The four themes include aspects of people's concern, economic drive, sustainable living and improved delivery of public service.

He said COVID-19 had changed the way the economy operated, and even changed the way of life whereby everyone must embrace the new norms.

"To enhance the country's education development, a total of MYR14.4 billion has been allocated, with MYR11.58 billion allocated for operation expenditure and MYR2.82 billion for development expenditure, which is in tandem with the efforts of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) to make the Malaysia Education Development Plan 2015-2025 (Higher Education) a success.

"Budget 2021 has also introduced eight initiatives to help graduates and MOHE in the name of development of higher education and the marketability of graduates," he said when officiating the Post-Budget Forum 2021 organised by the Economic and Financial Policy Institute (ECoFI), School of Economics, Finance and Banking (SEFB) recently.

He expressed hope that the 2021 Post-Budget Forum can be beneficial to everyone.  According to him, the forum was symbolic of the university's efforts and contribution towards working with the government in confronting the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impacts on the country's economy.

He also called on everyone to work together and continue to strive to revitalize the country's economy for the well-being of the people of Malaysia.

"For inclusive growth, you need inclusive debate, and that is what we are here to do".

The 2021 Post-Budget Forum  aptly themed, 'Transforming the Public Sector to Drive Economic Growth of the New Era Norm Towards People's Welfare' was held online and featured four leading panellists from various backgrounds namely the Chairman of the Industry and Investment, Science, Technology and Innovation and Kedah State Higher Education Committee, Dato' Dr Ku Abd Rahman Ku Ismail; Chief Executive, Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John; Senior Advisor, Khazanah Research Institute, Prof. Dr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram and moderator, Prof Dr Russayani Ismail who is the Dean of SEFB.

During the session, Dato' Dr Ku Abd Rahman expressed his heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the government for allocating the state of Kedah with many incentives in all the budgets that were presented previously, particularly for the manufacturing and services sectors.

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Jebasingam said, the 2021 Budget this time was inclusive and prioritized the well-being of the people in facing the COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, NCIA will focus on less developed areas such as the districts of Baling and Sik in its efforts to encourage investment as well as to help boost regional economic growth.

As for Prof Dr Jomo, the approach taken by the government would involve the people as a whole as many lacked the understanding of the measures taken by the government in its efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Concluding the forum, the Vice- Chancellor said the government takes the education sector seriously as it would not do for students to only have a degree; they also need to have certain skills to be viable.