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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Putrajaya today defended itself against criticism of a bloated its civil service, arguing that it provided employment opportunities to Malaysians.
Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kasim also argued that the large number of civil servants have helped to raise the country’s competitiveness, citing as example Malaysia’s recent ranking in theb top 10 World Bank business-friendly nations list.
“The number of our civil servants is actually good and apart from helping the country, we are also providing employment opportunities,” Shahidan replied when asked by Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng why the federal government’s need to hire consultants when Malaysia already has a sizeable public workforce.
Last month, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said 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.
Shahidan revealed today that the number of civil servants currently totals 1,132,450, excluding the police force.
The Segambut MP also pressed the minister on the RM7.2 billion bill for hiring private consultants.
Shahidan replied that the matter falls under the purview of the Ministry of Finance (MoF), although he defended the large number of hires for private consultants, saying the amount was paid based on contracts.
“Whether the amount is RM7.2 billion, this word was given by the MoF so they have to answer. Essentially, the amount is based on the negotiations so it is based on the contract in the tender,” he said.
Last week, the MoF 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 MoF 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 MoF.
It was previously reported there are 1.4 million civil servants in Malaysia, who cost the country some RM60 billion in wages annually and account for a third of the government’s total spending.
Shahidan had revealed last month that the Prime Minister’s Department spent RM212 million on foreign consultants over the past five years since 2008.
The MoF did not reveal which ministries had engaged private consultants.
Wong of Kelana Jaya also claimed the number of private consultants hired have increased by an average of 13.5 per cent each year.
Wong said today that the RM7.2 billion bill for private consultants was equivalent to RM125 million a month, or RM4 million a day.