PM’s Dept’s slush funds must be curbed

MP SPEAKS The 11th Malaysia Plan would make very little impact on the daily lives of ordinary Malaysians as there is very little money in it. Even with the limited sum, the lion’s share goes to the Prime Minister’s Department for political objectives.

The 8th Malaysia Plan (2001-2005) allocated RM170 billion and the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010) allocated RM220 billion.

For the 10th Malaysia Plan period, a total of RM249.2 billion was spent on  development between 2011 and 2015.

If inflation is taken into account, it is quite clear that the development allocation has not been increased but indeed is on the decline.

The percentage of development budget vis-à-vis the total annual budget has decreased from 24 percent in 2011 to 18 percent in 2015 (22 percent in 2012, 19.8 percent in 2013, 17.6 percent in 2013). Administrative allocation has eaten into the share for development.

Within the meagre sum of the development budget, the Prime Minister’s Department took 4.3 percent of the 8th Malaysia Plan funds but 13.5 percent of the 9th Malaysia Plan funds. The same trend continued in the 10th Plan.

For instance, in 2015, while the total development budget was only a meagre RM50.5 billion, the Prime Minister’s Department took the lion’s share of RM13 billion or 26 percent as its development budget.

In 2011, PMD’s development allocation was 21 percent (RM10.7 billion of RM 51.2 billion) of the total development allocation, 15 percent for 2012 (RM 7.7 billion of RM 51.2 billion), 18 percent for 2013 (RM9.1 billion of RM49.8 billion) and 23 percent for 2014 (RM10.5 billion of RM46.5 billion).

Development allocations for the Prime Minister’s Department are often used for political purposes.

For instance, I have previously identified that RM7.08 billion of the RM13 billion in the 2015 Budget is meant for discretional spending with ‘vaguely-worded slush fund projects’ such as the facilitation fund (RM2.5 billion), special projects (RM1.6 billion), development programmes (RM1.1 billion), social restructuring programmes (RM750 million), people-friendly projects (RM670 million), small projects (RM300 million) and poverty-related projects (RM160 million).

The tip of the iceberg

These items are just the tip of the iceberg and not inclusive of budget items in the Finance Ministry.

Those listed are particularly outrageous because they are so vaguely worded with scant information, thereby preventing scrutiny. And it is under Najib Abdul Razak’s total control as he can literally give it away with a stroke of the pen.

To make available resources for the 11th Malaysia Plan to succeed, there is a need to stop the prime pinister from also holding the Finance Ministry portfolio and also to stop the prime minister from having a pool of slush funds via discretionary spending items.

Najib may have been a lost cause but this Parliament must ensure that the next prime minister will not do what Najib has done over the past few years.

LIEW CHIN TONG is DAP director of political education and MP for Kluang.

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