KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has revealed that the Kelantan PAS government owes the Federal government a whopping RM388 million up till the end of last year, making it the biggest debtor among all states.
Lim said in a press release today that in 2016, the state had received a grant of RM398 million out of which RM59.9 million was a deficit grant, and Putrajaya had also given Kelantan an advance loan of RM100 million as additional funds to support state expenses.
“Up till December 31, 2017, the Kelantan state government has not paid the advance loan amounting to RM388 million, making the Kelantan state government the biggest debtor on advance loans.
“It must be stressed that only states that have financial management problems would request deficit grants and advance loans.
“This is why 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.
He added that in June this year, the state government had again requested for an advance loan from Putrajaya to pay the salaries and emoluments of its civil service staff and the request had also been approved.
In Parliament yesterday, the Bagan MP had mockingly asked PAS lawmakers why they wanted the suspended East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) project to resume without the federal government’s backing when the state could not even afford to pay the salary of its civil servants.
This triggered a heated shouting match.
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.
In the press release, Lim also voiced his disappointment with the reaction that PAS leaders had for his statement.
“I find it interesting that PAS’ leadership had such a harsh reaction towards my statement when compared to a similar statement made by Datuk Seri Najib before this.
“Is it because I am a ‘soft’ target allowing PAS leaders to play up dangerous sentiments utilising slander without shame?” he asked.