MP: PM’s Dept uses 25% of budget, no accountability

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KUALA LUMPUR: A DAP lawmaker has questioned the ballooning amount of funds allocated for the Prime Minister’s Department (PM’s Dept) in Budget 2015, claiming the “unprecedented” sum also includes “slush funds” that could be used without public accountability.

Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong said the RM19 billion allocated for the PM’s Dept had many unexplained items which left the bulk of the money for “discretionary” usage by the PM without clear accounting as to what it would be used for.

“There are so many items in the budget that amount to billions of ringgit that the PM can just sign off. These discretionary funds are wholly in the hands of the PM,” he told The Malaysian Insider. “And these are things that would be difficult to account for as we don’t know what these projects are.”

Liew said the PM’s Dept is taking 25% of the development budget. He said RM50.5 billion, or 18% of the total 2015 budget of RM273.9 billion, was allocated for development. “This leaves very little for the other ministries to get by,” he said. The PM’s Dept received RM16.5 billion in allocations for this year, an increase of 13% from Budget 2013. For 2015, it would be getting RM19 billion, a 15% increase from this year’s allocation.

Liew said some of the expenditure listed under the PM’s Dept for next year are for TV AlHijrah (RM40 million), the controversial National Civics Bureau (RM58.6 million), societal restructuring programmes or “Penyusunan Semula Masyarakat” (RM750 million) and the Permata Negara early education programme (RM30.1 million), which is led by the PM’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor. —The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 13, 2014.