Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Ministers’ entertainment allowance reduced by 10%


The entertainment allowance for the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers and Deputy Ministers will be reduced by 10 per cent effective July 1, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday. Announcing the austerity measures which would save the Government RM2 billion annually, the Prime Minister said the Government would announce other measures from time to time in an effort to cut down Government expenditure following the oil price hike. Abdullah said the austerity measures included freezing paid leave for Ministers and Deputy Ministers and limiting their vacation to the Asean region only and the duration should not exceed one week. Previously, this group enjoyed paid vacation borne by the Government to any destination once a year. Speaking to reporters after chairing the first meeting of the Council on Tackling Inflation, Abdullah said he had also told the Council that the austerity drive should include restricting travels by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and civil servants abroad. In addition, he said Government departments were not allowed to make office renovations while postponing any purchase of assets as well as holding functions and entertainment activities. “The Government too feels the hardship faced by the people and felt that the leadership must show a good example in facing this challenge,” he said. Currently, the monthly entertainment allowance for the Prime Minister is RM18,865, Deputy Prime Minister (RM15,015), Federal Ministers (RM12,320) and Deputy Ministers (RM6,000). Abdullah said the austerity drive in Government spending was being carried out following the rise in prices for fuel and food. The price of petrol reached USD138 per barrel in the world market which forced the Government to restructure the fuel subsidy and raised the retail price for petrol by 78 sen to RM2.70 per litre, effective last Thursday. He said the Government was considering an increase in several allowances for the people to widen the social security net. “The income threshold will be raised so that more Malaysians will benefit from these allowances,” he said, adding that detailed information on the matter would be announced within a week. Referring to the directive to restrict overseas travel, Abdullah said it would only be allowed for official duties involving important international conferences and meetings only or intergovernmental meetings. He said the officers attending such meetings should also be those who were directly involved in the task concerned and the number of such Ministry or department officials should not exceed three. Under the directive, a Minister was only eligible to bring three Ministry officials on official duty abroad while a Deputy Minister could only bring two officers. The Prime Minister said the use of hotel facilities was only allowed for international meetings, conferences, seminars and workshops. “All courses, trainings and workshops organised by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies must be restricted using existing facilities at the Ministries, Departments and Agencies concerned including the Putrajaya International Convention Centre,” he said. Abdullah said the renting of new and additional office space, moving to another building or making renovations to the existing office were also prohibited. He said any expenditure for the purchase of assets including the buying of cars, furniture, computers and other office equipment which had yet to be committed should be postponed. In addition, the purchase of minor items for office use such as printing materials and stationery must be reduced, he said. The Prime Minister said that f the existing Government assets, maintenance work must be carried out in an optimum manner to save resources and expenses during the period. “Functions such as the official opening of offices, conferences, meetings, workshops, courses and prize giving should be restricted,” he said. If necessary, he said these functions must be held on a modest scale without incurring much expenses to ensure there was no wastage The expenditure on decorations and food must be modest and wherever possible, the functions must be held in existing government facilities, Abdullah said. “There’s no need to make special shirts merely to be worn for the official opening, for just a day. Thereafter, the shirt cannot be worn because of the writing on the shirt, and it is kept only for remembrance,” he said. He said the giving of souvenirs was not encouraged but if it was necessary, it should be confined to books, local handicrafts and food items. The Prime Minister also announced the freezing of new posts in Government Departments to cut down on public expenditure except for certain and critical posts in the fields of education, health and enforcement as well as posts that could directly increase national revenue collection. Abdullah said the restructuring of organisations involving Ministries, Departments and Statutory bodies was prohibited except for those aimed at improving the structure of the organisations without involving the creation of new posts or to reduce the manpower strength. - Bernama