Guan Eng denies claims bumiputra, rural development allocations cut in Budget 2019

PETALING JAYA: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (pic) has dismissed claims that the government sidelined the bumiputra community and reduced allocations for rural development in Budget 2019.

He said certain quarters were trying to confuse the people by pointing out that the allocation for the Rural and Regional Development Ministry (RRDM) under the Barisan Nasional administration) in 2018 was RM9.5bil, while the budget for the Rural Development Ministry (RDM) in 2019 is only RM8.4bil.

Lim clarified that with RRDM being rebranded as RDM, agencies that used to come under RRDM such as the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda), Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) and Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) have been moved to other agencies.

"These agencies have had their allocations increased. For example, Peneraju's allocation of RM90mil in 2018 has been increased to RM210mil in 2019 to fund programmes to enhance the skills of bumiputra youths, especially those from the low-income groups.

"The allocation for Felda's development has been increased from RM160mil in 2018 to RM260mil for 2019 to pay for the upgrading of Felda settlement's roads and water supply storage," he said.

Lim said allegations that Mara’s management expenditure cost had been reduced from RM2bil in 2018 to RM1.3bil in 2019 were untrue.

He explained that Mara's scholarship and student loans were now classified as development spending.

"The fact is, the total allocation for Mara’s operating and development expenditure remains at RM3.7bil in 2019," he said in a statement on Tuesday (Nov 20).

Lim also said that the government will prioritise procurement via open tender for all contractors, including bumiputra contractors, to ensure transparency, competitiveness and reasonable costing.

"The practice of awarding mega projects through direct negotiation by the previous administration, which involves high cost and financial irregularities have burden the country and people," he added.

Lim said the government remains committed in assisting groups such as smallholders, farmers, and fishermen through targeted subsidies to avoid wastage and abuse.