Thursday, June 12, 2008


10pc allowance cut here
CM announces measures similar to austerity drive done by KL over fuel prices


A 10 per cent cut in the entertainment allowance of Ministers, Assistants Ministers, the State Speaker and their Deputies was among the measure’s taken to minimise Government expenses following the recent massive fuel prices hike. Describing the move as “part of our way to show concern for the rakyat’s (people) sufferings, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the measures are similar to the austerity drive that had been announced by the Federal Government. The 10 per cent cut is to take effect immediately, according to him. “We have taken into consideration the current situation, and we are concerned over the people’s well-being and how they are suffering due to the crease in fuel prices. Therefore, we are taking measures internally and externally to cut costs,” he said. He hoped the 10 per cent reduction in emolument would improve productivity and the delivery system, stressing that to date, no new post would be introduced, unless necessary. “We are also freezing the giving of souvenirs, and all Government functions are to be held within the premises, (in addition to) reducing overseas trips and conducting staff training in-house,” he said. Musa also wants all Government offices to adopt austerity measures like saving utility and telephone costs, optimising the usage, and restrict the purchase of new assets to important items only as well as cut down on unnecessary office renovations. “We will update the financial regulations from time to time. For instance, the State would be putting a stop to the purchase of new vehicles and ensure that available vehicles are used efficiently. We will only be using manual-engine four-wheel drive vehicles to reduce maintenance costs,” he said. Musa however, said that prudent spending is nothing new with the State Government. “We have always been thrifty in our spending. The State’s annual Budget is meant to stabilise its income and expenses. “In view of the current situation, we are taking extra measures to ensure that there is no wastage on the part of the Government,” he added. Touching on the State Government’s external measures, Musa called for the import duties on cement from Asean countries to be abolished. “The State Government would be seeking the Federal Government’s assistance to waive the duties to help the construction sector overcome rising costs,” he said after chairing the Cabinet Meeting at Wisma Innoprise here yesterday. He appealed to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to expedite the standardisation of prices of essential goods nationwide to help ease the rising cost of goods in the State. He also urged the Federal Government to extend the supply of diesel subsidy to public transport operators but cautioned local operators not to increase their prices without proper discussions with the relevant agencies. “We also need the Federal Government to review the poverty income level,” he told ‘reporters, adding’ that the Government Linked Companies (GLCs) should also take the necessary action to lighten the people’s burden by rescheduling loans, among others. He however stressed that despite the measures to reduce expenses, the Government would not jeopardise the development projects that would benefit the people, especially the lower income and those in the rural areas. “We will continue to be committed when it comes to providing development. The decision (fuel prices hike) may not be popular but as a responsible Government, we will ensure that the trust given will be upheld well, not just for now but for the good of the future generations,” he said.