Allocations for MPs cut as economy still recovering, says Anwar

PORT DICKSON: Annual development allocations for backbencher MPs have been slashed as the country's economy is still in recovery mode, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Prime Minister said the allocations would be increased once the economy improves.

"Yes, the allocation given to MPs for development purposes has been reduced as we are still facing economic problems.

"But we will also coordinate with district officers and state economic development officers (to ensure important projects are carried out)," he said after having lunch at a local eatery here.

ALSO READ: Constituency allocations for backbencher MPs slashed by over 65%

It was reported on Thursday (Feb 2) that constituency allocations for government backbencher MPs this year have been slashed by more than 65%, from RM3.8mil to RM1.3mil each.

The RM1.3mil consists of a RM1mil outright grant and RM300,000 for service centre operations.

Many government backbencher MPs were informed by the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU) of the Prime Minister’s Department in early January of the RM300,000 allocation for service centres.

ALSO READ: Govt urged to review cuts in backbencher MPs' allocations

The ICU also told government MPs that outright grants would be slashed to RM1mil from the previous RM1.5mil.

During the previous administration under Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Peninsular Malaysia MPs received RM3.5mil in outright grants and RM300,000 for service centre operations.

In the same period, Sabah and Sarawak MPs also received RM4mil in outright grants and RM300,000 to maintain service centre operations.

Anwar said MPs who needed higher allocations for emergency work such as repairing roads and surau or to deepen rivers could always apply.

ALSO READ: A tough balancing act

"They can apply for more if there is a pressing need. We will consider it," he said.

The move to reduce allocations was to send a message to the rakyat that the government was serious when it said it had to improve control of its finances, he said, adding that he started the ball rolling when he decided not to accept a government salary.

After being sworn in, Anwar had said he would not receive any salary, either as Prime Minister or Finance Minister.

Cabinet ministers have also since agreed to a 20% pay cut until Malaysia achieves economic recovery.

Anwar said he had to be strict on issues of governance, corruption and abuse of power in order for the country to move forward.

ALSO READ: Bersatu to ask MACC to unfreeze accounts

"That is why even political parties have to be questioned if you suddenly have more than RM300mil in your account.

"Whatever the reason, you need to explain to the rakyat," he said.

He added that the party in question had to explain how it could raise so much money when the country was facing the Covid-19 pandemic and many people had lost their jobs.

"You can raise hundreds of millions of ringgit but when you are asked how you managed to do that, you say you are being pressured.

"Just answer the question if it is true you have that much in your account and if so, where did it come from," he said.

Anwar said such questions will surely be asked as the pandemic had caused great hardship with jobs lost and projects halted.

Although Anwar did not mention names, it has been reported that Bersatu is being investigated under the Money Laundering Act and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009.

According to MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki, two of Bersatu’s accounts were frozen a fortnight ago.

Asked on his maiden trip as Prime Minister to Port Dickson where he once served as MP, Anwar said he was delighted to catch up with many old friends.

"I know many people here and have come back to express my gratitude.

"I also wish to tell them that whatever programmes could not be carried out due to Covid-19 will continue as PD is in the good hands of the (Negri Sembilan) Mentri Besar (Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun)," he added.

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