Pakatan Rakyat has yet again issued a call to Barisan Nasional to a debate the 2013 Budget presented by the prime minister last Friday.

The challenge comes in the wake of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s no-show during Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's 90-minute debate on the budget in Parliament yesterday.

In a statement, Pakatan said the invitation for the debate was directed at BN youth leaders such as Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Labis MP Chua Tee Yong or Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan, “if they dared”.

"Pakatan persists with our invitation for BN representatives to dare to come defend their economic approach while fielding questions from the rakyat, instead of merely having the courage to debate on live television or in the Dewan Rakyat,” it said.

The debate, it further said in the joint statement, is to be held during the Pakatan Budget 2013 open forum at the Petaling Jaya Community Library at 8.30pm on Wednesday .

The joint statement was issued by Pas central committee member Dzulkifly Ahmad, DAP election strategist Ong Kian Ming and PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli.
They said that debates on the economy between two political parties would provide an opportunity for the people to assess and compare each other’s policy alternatives.

Pakatan Rakyat’s capability in coming out with an alternative view of the economy compared to BN has certainly influenced calls for a healthy debate to be held.

“A healthy debate can be held if there is sincerity by both parties to sit down and discuss on focussing on the economic issues,” they said, adding that it was unhealthy when the entire cabinet had resorted to not attending Anwar’s reply and chose the live coverage of the tabling of the budget to attack him.