With RM388 million owed to Putrajaya, Kelantan is ‘biggest debtor’.
Lim Guan Eng has hit back against PAS lawmakers who demanded his apology for saying that the Kelantan government had failed to pay the wages of state civil servants and relied on loans from the federal government.
In a statement on Tuesday (Oct 23), the Finance Minister said the Kelantan state government owes the federal government the most money compared with other states in the country when it comes to taking advances on their yearly grants.
“In 2016, the Kelantan government received RM398 million as their yearly grant, like every state from the federal government.
“This included a grant deficit of RM59.9 million due to them not being able to pay the wages of their civil servants. Another advance of RM100 million from the yearly grant was also loaned to them to help them pay their expenses,” he said.
Lim added that as of Dec 31, 2017, the state government had not paid back the total outstanding loan on their grant advancement of RM388 million from the federal government, making the state the highest debtor.
“As of June 2018, the Kelantan state government had applied for another loan on their advancement in order to pay the wages of their civil servants, and the application had been approved.
“Only a state that has problems in terms of financial management will have to do so,” he said.
Lim added that he was curious about the strong reaction by certain PAS lawmakers on his statement that the Kelantan government failed to pay the wages of its civil servants when former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the same thing in a statement earlier this year.
“Former finance minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made an open statement on January 28 this year that the Kelantan state government could not afford to pay the salary/emolument of its own civil servants and depend on federal government assistance. These are facts based on truthful figures,” said Lim.
“There was no such harsh reaction when he said the same thing said.
“Is it because I am a ‘soft’ target who can be used by the PAS leadership to play on dangerous sentiments and throw malicious slander?” he asked.
The issue was sparked in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday (Oct 22) during the supplementary question by Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (PAS-Kota Baru), who asked Lim if the state governments of Kelantan and Terengganu could continue with the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project on its own initiative.
However, Lim cited the example that the Kelantan state government had to rely on loans from the federal government and failed to pay its civil servants.
A shouting match ensued, including Tan Sri Noh Omar (BN-Tanjung Karang) who demanded that Lim retract his statement and apologise.
During the debate session in Parliament today, PAS’ Pendang MP Awang Solahudin Hashim asked Najib whether or not Lim’s statements were true and demanded the former finance minister furnish the numbers.
“Kelantan has always been able to pay its (civil servants’) salary. I didn’t expect this question and I do not have the data at hand, but the finance minister should have all the details and he must answer this question factually,” Najib replied, backtracking on his earlier statement made in January.
Earlier report: Oct 22, Guan Eng’s “No Salaries” Remark Riles Up PAS MPs