‘Wong’s answer on ‘missing MRP fund’ raises more questions than answers’

Chong (right) during a press conference yesterday accompanied by Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong
KUCHING: Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh’s answer on the ‘missing RM250 million MRP (Minor Rural Project) Fund’ has raised more questions than answer on the subject, says Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen.
Chong, who is state DAP chairman, quoted Wong as saying during his ministerial winding-up speech at the recently concluded State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting in respect of the approved RM905.9 million MRP Fund allocation, “at the closing of 2015 account, an amount of RM572.8 million was spent while the un-utilised allocation of RM333.1 million has, in fact, remained intact in the Consolidated Fund”.
“From this one answer from Wong Soon Koh, there are five more questions for him to answer. His answer is in direct contradiction with the Chief Minister and Finance Minister I’s (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem) answer on the approved allocation for MRP fund in year 2015.
“The full text of the Chief Minister’s answer given in October, 2016 is as follows: ‘For the information of Ahli Yang Berhormat for Kota Sentosa, the total allocation approved for Minor Rural Projects in 2015 was RM655.9 million to implement 11,878 projects in the State. Of these projects, 11,465 have been completed. The remaining 413 are still under various stages of implementation and scheduled for completion in 2016.’
“From Wong Soon Koh’s answer, he confirms that the total approved allocation for MRP fund in 2015 is RM905.9 million. Why is there such a discrepancy in the ‘approved allocation for MRP fund’ in the sum of RM250 million between the answers given by the Finance Minister II (Wong Soon Koh) and Finance Minister I (Chief Minister)? Was Adenan trying to hide something?” Chong questioned during a press conference here yesterday.
The Bandar Kuching MP said if Wong’s answer were correct, then, out of the total approved RM905.9 million MRP fund in year 2015, a large sum of RM333.1 million remained un-utilised.
“That is 36.8 per cent of the approved fund not utilised and it is highly inefficient rate of implementation of projects and budgetary allocations by the Sarawak State Government. Is this 36.8 per cent rate of un-utilised approved fund the general rate across the board for the State Government’s budget? If it were the case, then for every announced allocation of RM1 billion, only RM632 million of the fund will be used by the end of the year.
“Adenan/Wong Soon Koh must give the people of Sarawak a full account of the utilisation rates of all the approved allocation and explain their inefficiency.”
Chong pointed out that the RM905.9 million MRP fund for year 2015 was approved by the DUN in two stages, namely, on Nov 19, 2014, a sum of RM655.9 million was allocated under Budget 2015; and on April 24, 2015, an additional sum of RM250 million was approved under the first Supplementary Estimates of Development Expenditure 2015.
“When the Government could not even fully utilised the initial RM655.9 million MRP fund approved in the Budget 2015, why did the State Government seek another RM250 million MRP fund allocation in the same year? Was it done for the purpose of image building and to trick the rural people into voting for BN during the Sarawak Elections?”
Additionally, he questioned whether there were proposed MRP when Wong tabled the first Supplementary Estimates of Development Expenditure 2015 April 24, 2015 for an additional RM250 million MRP fund?
“If yes, what are these proposed projects and why are these projects not carried out? If no, is it a practice of the State Government to simply seek DUN’s approval of allocation without even having any idea what to do with the fund?
“If such were the case, then it could be RM250 million today, tomorrow, it can be RM2.5 billion. Then, all those announcement of allocation will amount to nothing, because at the end of the day, it is still up to the Government whether to implement such projects or otherwise.”
Chong said the fact remained that in the answer given by Adenan, an amount of approved RM250 million MRP fund is missing, adding that when the actual approved MRP Fund in year 2015 was RM905.9 million, the answer provided by Adenan was that the total approved MRP fund was only RM655.9 million, a shortfall of RM250 million.
“If Wong Soon Koh is so sure of his answer, why is he not confident enough to face my questioning in DUN but instead chose to suspend me from DUN and thereafter have a monologue in DUN by him alone on the matter?”
He said in either of the answers from Adenan or Wong, it was thus revealed that the Government might have announced hundreds of millions of allocation during the presentation of Budgets, but at the end of the day, when it came to implementation, it fell far short of the announced allocation.
“This is irresponsible and untruthful budgeting and it is just gimmicks to fool the people about how caring and generous the government is while in actual fact, the full amount of the approved allocation will not be used.”
Chong said in the case of the RM250 million MRP funds, in May, 2015, Adenan was boasting about using the money to uplift the livelihood of rural people, thus giving lots of excitement to rural folks.
“Yet, it is only at end of 2016, after persistent probing by DAP elected representatives that we discovered, not a single sen of the RM250 million MRP fund approved by the DUN was spent on the rural folks. Had there not been the persisting supervision by DAP elected representatives, all Sarawakians will still be fooled by Adenan thinking that the additional RM250 million MRP fund has been used for the benefits of the rural folks.”
Meanwhile, Chong said DAP would be holding a ‘Kopitiam Ceramah’ at C3 Cafe in BDC from 2pm to 4pm, this Saturday (Dec 3).
TheBorneoPost  Friday 2/12/2016