‘Slashing constituency funds will affect services’

PETALING JAYA: The cuts in constituency allocations will severely affect services by elected representatives to the people, especially those in the rural areas, say some Members of Parliament.

Kota Belud MP Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said the funds are meant for the development of the constituencies and the well-being of the people.

“I understand that the government is trying to cut down on spending, but slashing the funds is not the way.

“Look at the size of Sabah and Sarawak and how these areas are left behind in terms of economic and social development.

“In fact, the allocations for Sabah and Sarawak should be increased,” she said in a statement yesterday.

She pointed out that the move to cut funding was not in line with efforts to bridge the development gaps between the two states and the peninsula.

Julau MP Datuk Larry Sng said the reduction would adversely affect the rural constituencies.

“With the rising cost of living ... those pressured with financial burden may seek their MPs to assist them. But with less funding, we will be unable to help them,” he added.

On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that the annual development allocations for government MPs have been slashed by 65% to RM1.3mil.

The Star on Thursday, quoting sources, reported that constituency allocations for government MPs this year had been slashed from RM3.8mil to RM1.3mil. The RM1.3mil consists of a RM1mil outright grant and another RM300,000 for service centre operations.

Under his predecessor Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration, MPs from the peninsular received RM3.5mil in outright grants while those in Sabah and Sarawak got RM4mil. Besides, all MPs were given RM300,000 each to run their service centres.

While some MPs foresee the challenges ahead with these smaller allocation, they said they understood the need to cut down on funds.

Tanjung Piai MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng urged MPs to be prudent in their expenditures.

On his plan for his constituency, he said he would focus on school development projects, aside from improving the people’s well-being.

“MPs can always make special request to the government for additional funds or larger allocations, or from related government agencies,” he pointed out.

Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin said even the allocations before the cuts were not enough.

“The allocations are not enough, but if the government feels that we have to reduce the funds, we will support the government’s decision,” said Sim, who hoped that the reduction in allocations will be temporary.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs chief executive officer Tricia Yeoh feels cutting allocations alone was not enough.

“The government must consider expanding the tax base. Tax reform is urgently needed and this must be discussed by policy makers before it is too late,” she added.

Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research senior fellow Dr Azmi Hassan called for a study to assess the effectiveness of the allocations for the MPs.

“There must be an analysis to see how the money is used in each constituency. Has it benefited the needy or (is it being used) as a political tool to gain support from voters?,” he said.

Meanwhile, Perikatan Nasional whip Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan has called on Pakatan Harapan to honour its pledge in the 15th General Election to provide equal constituency allocations for MPs across the political divide.

“Perikatan is urging the PM to guarantee that development allocations will be given to all MPs, as implemented by the previous government,” he added.

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