Najib takes the mickey out of Guan Eng over denial of cutbacks for rural, Bumiputera communities

Jerry Choong
In a Facebook post, the former PM pointed out that Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok mentioned on November 2 that her ministry faced allocation cuts by as much as 50.7 per cent. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has mocked Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s statement that there were no cutbacks for rural and Bumiputera communities as denials in the face of reality.

In a Facebook post, he pointed out that Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok mentioned on November 2 that her ministry faced allocation cuts by as much as 50.7 per cent.

“Not to mention Sungai Petani MP Datuk Johari Abdul’s comments in the Dewan Rakyat last Monday (November 12) where he regretted the reduction of various subsidies for farmers and gardeners in Budget 2019,” Najib said.

Noting that Lim had said MARA’s expenditure changed from RM2 billion to RM1.3 billion as its scholarship and student loans are now classified under development spending, Najib said something else was left out.

“This is nonetheless a reduction of RM500 million compared to the RM2.5 billion allocation for this year during the BN administration. Strange that he did not mention it.

“Even more hilarious is when Lim said the Felda allocation has been augmented instead of reduced, providing the example that the funds to fix and construct highways and improve water supply have been increased to RM260 million for 2019,” he said.

Although Najib admitted this was an increase from the RM200 million allocated this year, he said Budget 2018 under BN had allocated RM60 million to Felda for the palm oil replanting programme, RM164 million to construct 5,000 units of Felda Second Generation Homes, and RM5,000 special incentives for 94,956 Felda pioneer families each nationwide involving a cost of RM474.78 million.

“This seemingly disappeared in Budget 2019 at a time when the prices of palm oil and rubber are very low and when help should be increased instead of reduced or abolished altogether.

“This was all written in black and white in Budget 2019, yet the finance minister still insists on denying it?” Najib said.

Earlier today, Lim said claims that Putrajaya is reducing allocations towards uplifting the Bumiputera and rural communities were untrue.

On the allegation that MARA’s operating expenditure will be cut from RM2 billion to RM1.3 billion, he said this only appeared so because the agency’s scholarship and student loans were now classified as development spending.

“The fact is, total allocations for MARA’s operating and development expenditure will remain at RM3.7 billion in 2019,” he said in a statement.

Lim also criticised those misleading the public with claims that the Rural and Regional Development Ministry will receive over RM1 billion less next year, explaining that this was because agencies such as Risda and Felcra, among others, now came under other ministries.

The minister insisted that funds for agencies dealing with rural development will increase, citing the more than doubling of Yayasan Peneraju Pendidikan Bumiputera’s (Peneraju) funds to upskill Bumiputera youths, which will go from RM90 million this year to RM210 million in 2019.

Felda will also receive an additional RM100 million for development for a total of RM260 million in 2019.

While noting that the government is moving towards open tenders for job awards, Lim said his ministry’s guidelines still maintained a 30 per cent quota for Bumiputera firms in terms of annual work value.

“Additionally, jobs valued below RM200,000 remain reserved for G1 class Bumiputera contractors (previously known as Class F) and implemented using quotations,” he said. 

The minister also gave his assurance that assistance schemes for groups such as genuine smallholders, farmers, and fishermen will all be continued in the form of targeted subsidies to avoid abuse and leakages.

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