PH Govt has channelled 'wang ehsan', advance payments to help Kelantan — Lim

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 16): The Federal Government has channelled half of the ‘wang ehsan’ (compassionate money) directly to the Kelantan Government, and even helped to provide advance payments to settle staff emoluments for the opposition-led state government, says Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said since the Pakatan Harapan Government took over the administration of the country, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had decided to channel 50 percent of ‘wang ehsan’ directly to the Kelantan Government and not through a Federal Government’s entity.

Previously, the ‘wang ehsan’ was given annually to the Kelantan Islamic Religious Council (MAIK) and a Federal Government’s entity on a 50-50 basis.

“I would like to emphasise that the ‘wang ehsan’ payments and matters pertaining to petroleum and Petronas are not under my jurisdiction, and I am only following the instructions issued by the Prime Minister.

“I am disappointed with irresponsible quarters who are trying to incite hatred by claiming that I am trying to prevent the payment, when in fact, the payment can only be made with the directive of the Prime Minister,” he said.

Lim said he found it difficult to understand how the Kelantan State Government could consider the previous (Barisan Nasional) Government, which did not channel the ‘wang ehsan’ to the State Government, to be their loyal ally, and deem the current Federal Government, which pays them directly, as their enemy.

He also stressed that the Ministry of Finance was committed to helping the State Government despite the many insults and allegations made by the latter and that Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob himself had acknowledged the receipt of RM15.75 million of the ‘wang ehsan’ on Sept 18.

In the meantime, he said the Ministry of Finance had received a letter dated Sept 12 from the Kelantan State Finance Officer again seeking the Federal Government's assistance in the form of advance payments, to meet its operating expenditure obligations, including paying salaries and emoluments of the State’s civil servants.

“I approved the application for an advance payment of RM100 million on Oct 14, to assist the State Government to finance its operating expenditure, including the payment of salaries to its administrative staff till the end of 2019,” he said, adding that it was not the first time the Kelantan Government had applied to the new Federal Government for advance funds.

In 2018, the Federal Government had also approved Kelantan’s advance application of RM91.5 million to cover its operating expenditure.

Lim hoped that the ‘wang ehsan’ and advance payments would help the Kelantan Government in strengthening its financial position and further enhance the socio-economic status of the people in the State.