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Shahril: Did Guan Eng lie about Great Eastern's RM2b pledge to B40 fund?

Published:  |  Modified:

BUDGET 2019 | Umno Youth deputy chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan has questioned whether Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng lied to the Dewan Rakyat about insurance firm Great Eastern's role in providing coverage for the B40 group.

Last Friday while tabling Budget 2019, Lim said Great Eastern had agreed to contribute RM2 billion to the national B40 Health Protection Fund.

"We are appreciative to Great Eastern Life Insurance for agreeing to contribute the initial seed funding of RM2 billion to this fund which will be managed by Bank Negara Malaysia," the minister said.

However, Great Eastern had said on Monday that this contribution was still in discussion.

"So which is true? Did Lim lie in the Dewan Rakyat and to millions of Malaysians?" Shahril asked in a Facebook post today.

The Business Times had cited Great Eastern Holdings, the insurance firm's Singaporean parent company, as saying that the RM2 billion contribution was an option being explored to satisfy foreign ownership requirements for insurance companies in Malaysia.

Bank Negara had in 2017 ordered foreign insurers, including Great Eastern, to lower their stakes in their Malaysian businesses to comply with a 2009 rule limiting foreign ownership of local insurance businesses to 70 percent.

Shahril said it was clear that Great Eastern Malaysia, which is wholly owned by its Singapore parent, wanted to use the planned contribution to exempt itself from this ruling.

"Can you see the 'quid pro quo' element there? I hope Lim can explain whether you lied to the House, and whether this is a budget for Malaysians or a Singaporean company?" he added.

Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak had also asked on Facebook today if Lim had lied to the Dewan Rakyat, and whether the local insurance industry's interests were at stake.

The B40 Health Protection Fund would provide coverage up to RM8,000 for those in the B40 household income group against four main types of critical illnesses.

It also provides income during hospitalisation of up to RM50 per day, for up to 14 days.

Lim had said that he hoped the fund would grow with further contributions from other insurers.

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