Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming has called for more transparency in the 2021 budget, stating that the record-setting RM69 billion in development expenditure included funding for unspecified projects.
“For example, the allocation for ‘special projects’ under the Prime Minister’s Department has increased from RM100 million in 2020 to RM1 billion in 2021,” he said.
He said in the past, MPs had highlighted that such large allocations, without stating the nature of such projects, can be subject to great abuse due to lack of transparency.
Ong also highlighted the additional RM5.5 billion that had been allocated to the finance ministry’s development expenditure (from RM8.1 billion in 2020 to RM13.6 billion in 2021) under the category of “various capital injections”.
“Without knowing the details of these capital injections, it is hard to gauge how much of the real economy this additional expenditure will benefit,” he said.
The former deputy international trade and industry minister said the economic benefits of the RM69 billion in development expenditure would be enjoyed by a larger proportion of the population if the projects were rolled out relatively quickly in a transparent manner to create a high multiplier effect.
He highlighted the additional development expenditure to repair dilapidated schools, saying it would be beneficial for the students in these schools, and also for the small contractors who may be given these projects.
“However, this win-win scenario could only be achieved if the contracts were tendered out transparently and at a reasonable cost,” Ong said.
He also questioned the additional RM1.5 billion in development expenditure allocated to the transport ministry for increasing the capacity of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB), stating that the multiplier effect was likely to be small if the increase in allocation is focused on the Klang Valley Double Tracking project, due to the limited number of contractors involved. – FMT