Anwar wants govt to explain ‘off-budget projects’ in Dewan Rakyat

Opposition leader names 5G project, High-Speed Rail, and Subang airport.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has demanded the government explain several “off-budget” expenditures while debating Budget 2022 in the Dewan Rakyat today (Nov 1).

He named several projects, including the nationwide 5G rollout, the possible revival of the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project and attempts to privatise the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Selangor.

Citing 1MDB which incurred RM32.3 billion in debts to the government, he said the public may be forced to foot the bill for these projects.

“The government has said these off-budget (projects) would not involve government allocation, but in the end, they may go back to the government.

“Don’t take it lightly. The prime minister used to say these ( projects) do not involve government expenditure. This is not true.

“Taking the 1MDB issue, the biggest and most notorious (scandal) in the world, back then (the government) also said it was an ‘off-budget’ project,” Anwar said, adding that he would not want a repeat of another 1MDB.

The Port Dickson MP urged for these “off-budget” projects to be conducted in a transparent and open manner.

5G project cost

Anwar said he learned from an internal source the operating cost for Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), which was set up to build and own Malaysia’s 5G network infrastructure, has exceeded RM18.9 billion.

This is while the government has yet to reveal the exact cost of the project, he added.

“It was first announced (the project would be) RM11 billion but later it became RM15 billion. Some said it may take more than RM28 billion just to improve the existing 4G network.

“We need to make the government responsible for the implementation of these mega-projects, particularly the 5G network spearheaded by the DNB, without any detailed explanation,” Anwar said.

DNB will be given an allocation of RM15 billion to spend on the 5G rollout over a period of 10 years.

In July, DNB announced that it had appointed Ericsson to design and build the National 5G Network at a total cost of RM11 billion.

Accountability for fund wastage

Anwar also urged the government to act against any minister, department head or even chief secretary if they are involved in the leakage and wastage of public funds as revealed in 2020.

“Those involved should be taken to task, be it the minister, chief secretary or department heads. If not, the same thing will happen next year.

“This is the same issue being debated every year in Dewan Rakyat,” he said.

The auditor-general’s report 2020 revealed that non-compliance of federal ministries and departments with financial management has led to issues involving irregular payments, loss of public funds and wastage amounting to RM620.07 million in 2020.

Auditor-General Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid said of the RM510.49 million in irregular payments, RM499.19 million involved payments for maintenance service claims without being verified at the National Security Council level.

Of the RM104.79 million loss in public funds, RM81.69 million involved unclaimed penalties not imposed by the Immigration Department, RM4.79 million involved equipment that was received late and not installed at Istana Budaya.

Anwar was the first MP to debate the 2022 Budget, which was tabled by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz last Friday.

By : KOW GAH CHIE – MALAYSIAKINI

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