The expenditure for the Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) continues to grow under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s watch, with spending significantly higher than when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in power.
Compared to 2003 when expenditure was RM3.6 billion, Budget 2015 shows that Najib’s PMD is expected to spend more than four times that amount.
According to the Treasury estimates the PMD is expected to spend a total of RM19.1 billion in 2015, a jump from RM16.5 billion from this year.
This is about 10 percent of total government expenditure for the year. A look into its proposed budget may explain why this is so.
From muftis to the training for the judiciary, kindergartens to national security, nuclear energy to human rights (Suhakam), economic planning, and even a television station, there seems to be little that the PMD does not have its fingers in.
Correspondingly, a whopping RM1.24 billion goes to the thousands of staff members on its payroll this year.
However, the biggest slice of the PMD pie goes to services and supply, costing the government a mind blowing RM2.85 billion this year.
For next year, however, “special projects” is a big ticket item to watch out for.
With a remarkable RM1.6 billion budgeted for this purpose, it is exponentially higher than the RM180 million under this line item in 2014.
Permata and BTN
Among the programmes and agencies under PMD are the Permata programme - an early education programme spearheaded by the prime minister’s wife, Rosmah Mansor ( below ) - and the controversial National Civics Bureau (Biro Tatanegara or BTN).
By the end of 2014, the Permata unit is estimated to spend RM42.8 million, with 40,000 pre-school children enrolled in its programme. Its budget for next year will ,however, be slashed to RM30.1 million.
Permata does not directly fund the schools per se, but provides “management, operational, monitoring and support” to implement its programme.
Government propaganda unit BTN, meanwhile, is estimated to close the year with a total expenditure bill of RM64.9 million in 2014, and for next year it has been given RM58.6 million to spend.
BTN’s millions go to fund close to 4,000 seminars, courses and conventions meant to “inculcate patriotism” and studies on the “disparity between the government and the rakyat”.
Meanwhile, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), often accused of being a big spender, will cap the year with a whopping RM241.4 million in spending.
It is expected to only spend about RM40 million next year but DAP’s Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming is skeptical.
In a tweet, he pointed out that in Budget 2014, Pemandu has ended up spending about six times more.
“Pemandu’s estimated expenditure in 2014 was RM39 million but now it has been revised to RM240 million. What gives?” he asked.