Budget cuts may affect public universities, says DAP

ong_kian_ming-480x300The recent Budget review may affect fund allocations for public universities, a DAP lawmaker has said.

In his statement today, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming said that the government’s announcement to review RM 3.2 billion of transfers and grants to statutory bodies, Government Linked Companies (GLC’s) and Government Trust Funds (GTCs), may result in public universities suffering budget cuts as well.

Ong believes that this may be the case as a large proportion of grants to statutory bodies are allocated to public universities.

Based on the Economic Report 2014-2015, he said, grants to statutory bodies from the operation expenditure was an estimated RM16.7 billion.

“All of our public universities, with the exception of the International Islamic University, are statutory bodies,” he said.

Ong added that according to the 2015 Budget Expenditure Estimates, of the aforementioned RM 16.7 billion, RM 7.4 billion was allocated for the operational expenditure of 20 public universities.

“It seems unlikely that our public universities will not suffer budget cuts as a result of the RM3.2 billion expenditure review for the allocation to statutory bodies, GLCs and Government Trust Funds. The question is, by how much?” he asked.

Ong said that apart from the 120 statutory bodies that risked budget cuts, at least another ten GTCs and numerous GLCs may have its funding slashed.

“Because of PM Najib’s failure to table the breakdown of his budget revisions in parliament, I suspect the affected bodies themselves do not know whether or not they have been affected by these expenditure reviews,” Ong explained.

On Jan 20 2014, Najib had announced the government’s revised budget to a hall of invited guests comprising diplomats, the business community, non-governmental organisations and only MPs from the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), instead of debating the budget in Parliament, or tabling the budget breakdown.

The budget revision was seen as necessary due to the fall of the crude oil price, and the depreciating Ringgit.

A total of RM5.5 billion was cut from the RM 223.4 billion government operating expenditure, non of which taken from the RM13 billion allocated for the Prime Minister’s Department.

Ong believes that it is unfair not to slash programs under the Prime Minister’s Department, such as Permata, and to cut public university funds instead.

“It would be unfair for our public universities to suffer major budget cuts when other programs and expenditure items such as the RM30.7 million allocated to PERMATA under the Prime Minister’s Department go unscathed,” he said.

Permata, falls under the Prime Minister’s Department and is chaired by wife of Prime Minister Najib Razak, Rosmah Mansor and did not get its RM30.7 million allocation cut in the recent Budget review.

-The Rocket

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