By Ong Kian Ming, Serdang MP
Dato’ Seri Najib, Prime Minister and Finance Minister, announced in the recent budget the setting up of a new Green Foundation (Yayasan Hijau) and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center (MAGIC). At the same time, the expenditure allocated to the Prime Minister’s department has increased from R14.6 billion in 2013 to a projected RM16.5 billion in 2014, an increase of 13%.
Part of the reason why government expenditure has increased significantly over the past 4 years under the current Prime Minister and Finance Minister is the employment of many contract staff on very high wages, especially in the Prime Minister’s Department.
In a parliamentary reply I received on the 1st of October, I was informed that the yearly salary, allowance and the bonus of the CEO of Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) was RM830,500 which works out to approximately a monthly salary of RM69,000.
The CEO of the Land Transport Commission or SPAD was paid a yearly salary of RM480,000 (RM40,000 a month), a yearly allowance of RM162,000 and a bonus of RM60,000 which gives a yearly salary totalling RM622,000. The CEO of TalentCorp receives a monthly salary of RM30,000 and a monthly car allowance of RM5,000 which works out to a yearly salary of RM420,000.
All these CEOs are paid monthly salaries which are higher than the monthly salary of the highest paid civil servant which is the Chief Secretary (Ketua Setiausaha Negara) which has a maximum monthly salary of RM23,577.
And these are only some of the agencies which are under the Prime Minister’s Department. Others would include the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), the Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), the Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera (TERAJU) and the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU).
Not only are the CEOs of these agencies paid salaries which are higher than their civil servant equivalents, the staff in these agencies, many of whom are contract staff and not government servants, are also paid higher than equivalent salaries.
For example, a Director at PEMANDU, which is equivalent to a JUSA A/B civil servant has a maximum salary of RM49,000 a month, an Associate Director at PEMANDU, which is equivalent to a JUSA C civil servant has a maximum salary of RM31,600 a month and a Senior Manager which is equivalent to a Grade 54 civil servant has a maximum salary of RM21,000 a month.
All of these positions add greatly to government expenditures especially in the Prime Minister’s Office. This is one of the reasons why the total expenditure for the Prime Minister’s office is projected to rise by 13% while the overall budget is projected to increase by only 1.5% from Rm260 billion in 2013 to RM264 billion in 2014.
If the Prime Minister is serious about asking ordinary Malaysians to change their lifestyles to adapt to rising prices as subsidies are withdrawn and the GST is introduced, he should also walk and talk by reducing expenditure in his own department.
He should also stop creating new agencies such as Yayasan Hijau whose functions are already present in existing agencies such as the Malaysian Green Tech Corporation, the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) and also MAGIC whose functions are already present in existing agencies such as AIM and Cradle and the Malaysian Productivity Council and the many the arms and government agencies which have responsibilities overseeing ‘innovation’ initiatives. The exception here is Senator Idris Jala who is the CEO of PEMANDU but is paid the same salary as a Minister given that he is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.