Putrajaya spent RM7.2b, or RM4m a day, on private consultants, Parliament told

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — The federal government has spent a whopping RM7.2 billion since 2009 to hire private consultants for national projects, the Finance Ministry has disclosed, despite the 1.4 million civil servants in its employment.

The ministry revealed a gradual rise in the bills for private consultancy firms from RM1.3 billion in 2009 — the year Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak took office — to RM1.63 billion in 2010, followed by RM1.8 billion in 2011, RM1.82 billion in 2012 and RM722 million from January to October this year.

“The capabilities of government researchers are limited in terms of their competency and human resources,” the Finance Ministry said in its written reply yesterday to Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen.

“Hence, the government needs to appoint private consultancy firms so that the constraints of competency and human resources faced by government agencies will be resolved to ensure that projects and research are carried out according to plan,” added the Finance Ministry.

Wong said today that the figures of the private consultants’ fees reveal an increase of 13.5 per cent on average each year.

“Furthermore, this reliance on private consulting firms reflects the BN leadership’s lack of faith in the civil service,” the PKR lawmaker told reporters at the Parliament lobby here today.

“We call on all ministries to fully disclose how much has been spent on private consulting firms and the names of the consulting firms hired...I would also like to ask the Auditor-General and the Public Accounts Committee to focus on consulting spending in the next A-G report,” he added.

There are 1.4 million civil servants in Malaysia, who cost the country RM60 billion in wages annually and account for a third of the government’s total spending.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said last month that the 4.68 per cent ratio of civil servants to the Malaysian population was the highest in Asia Pacific in 2009, compared to Singapore’s 1.4 per cent, Indonesia’s 1.79 per cent, South Korea’s 1.85 per cent, and Thailand’s 2.06 per cent.

The Finance Ministry said in its written reply dated yesterday that Putrajaya has developed the skills of government researchers and consultants in public universities, in the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) and in other government agencies and ministries, but noted that their capabilities were limited.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim revealed last month that the Prime Minister’s Department spent RM212 million on foreign consultants over the past five years since 2008.

The Finance Ministry did not reveal which ministries had engaged private consultants.

Wong said today that the RM7.2 billion bill for private consultants was equivalent to RM125 million a month, or RM4 million a day.

“This is a completely irresponsible use of government revenue that is in part generated by the rakyat’s yearly income tax,” he said.

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