Idris Jala clarifies use of Pemandu operating budget

Datuk Seri Idris Jala

PETALING JAYA (Oct 31, 2010): Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and Pemandu chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala has refuted claims of Pemandu using an operating budget of RM729 million to pay international consultants.

“Pemandu’s operating budget for 2011 is RM40 million. This claim that the amount is RM729 million is 1,822% exaggerated,” he said in a statement on Friday.

According to him, the RM729 million consists of operating budgets for Pemandu (RM40 million), National Key Result Areas (NKRA) (RM334 million) and National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) (RM355 million).

“Out of the total budget of RM729 million, RM334 million is parked under Jabatan Perdana Menteri (Prime Minister's Department) because this expenditure covers initiatives that cut across various ministries and agencies.

"For example, RM265 million is for financial support for the hardcore poor of about 22,000 households under the NKRA for Low Income Households for the entire 12 months in 2011. None of this money is paid to consultants as alleged,” he said.

Under the 'Low Income Households' project, money will be paid as financial support directly to hardcore poor families after taking into account the full impact of the efforts by participating ministries such as the implementation of Azam Tani by agriculture ministry.

The money is then released for each family based on the e-kasih report by Internal Coordination Unit (ICU) and verification by the Welfare ministry and Pemandu before actual distribution is made via Pos Malaysia.

Final decisions for spending the money is done collectively by the NKRA Steering Committee, he added.

Meanwhile, Pemandu’s RM40 million operating budget comprises manpower costs / emoluments; services and supplies; assets under existing and new policies; one-off payment for non-recurring items including costs of conducting labs, open days, workshops, surveys, consultancy fees, research and benchmarking exercises; travel and logistics; and media costs.

Idris also refuted claims of a new government ministry called “Kementerian Idris Jala” which has been allocated RM12 billion and is a waste of public funds.

He said RM12.22 billion is the 8% investment provided by the government in the form of infrastructure and financial incentives/support under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) aimed at making Malaysia a high-income economy. The ministry expects the private sector to make up the remaining 92% investment.

“This is revenue generating expenditure and in no way a waste of public funds. We need to spend to grow the economy and increase our gross national income.

“The total 2011 NKEA budget, covering operating and development expenditures, amounts to RM355 million and RM5.5 billion respectively. For 2012, a further RM6.4 billion has been allocated for development expenditure,” he added.

Idris said it is difficult to implement the ETP as it requires the nation to transform rather than conduct business as usual and in addition, compete with other nations for investment, market access and talent.

“Our economy used to grow at between 8% to 9% but since 1997, our annual growth has been only around between 4% and 5%. With greater focus under the NKEAs, if we can grow at 6% per annum, we can become a high-income economy by 2020,” he said.

Idris added that claims of the MRT project’s traffic study being outsourced to third-party contractors with vested interest are not true, adding that open competitive tender is the default process in awarding contractors, except for direct negotiations with land owners to acquire land along the route.

“The traffic study was never outsourced to Gamuda-MMC. MinConsult, an independent consultant commissioned by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has just completed their independent study, including the analysis of Gamuda-MMC’s proposal which includes MRT network design and alignment, proposed governance structure options and methods for awarding contracts which is then further subjected to competitive tender,” he said.

He added that all MRT projects comprise many sub-projects which would be parceled out in separate packages to be tendered out to ensure the best outcomes in quality and cost.

Idris added that the study has not been presented to the Economic Council as the mechanism for selecting and awarding contracts for the MRT project has not been finalised. -- theSun