KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today doubled down on his assertion that billions of ringgit were paid to international consulting companies by the government.

This came despite a denial recently issued from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed that over RM2 billion was paid out to these consultants to compile the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

Also earlier in the day, Kuala Krai MP Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman during his 12MP debate, had called for Anwar to retract his statement on the money paid to consultants, which the PAS lawmaker said was slanderous following clarification from Mustapa.

Anwar then, when interjecting Klang MP Charles Santiago’s debate on the 12MP, first responded by telling Abdul Latiff he had failed to do his homework over the matter.

“Just now Kuala Krai said it was slanderous what I said; first, I do not deny the statement that staff of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and other civil servants are just carrying out their duties, and to this, I commend and say thank you to them.

“But when Kuala Krai says its slander, this is because he never did his homework, he thinks this is just a sermon at a village ‘surau’,” Anwar said.

The PKR president detailed how a Parliamentary response by then minister of finance from November 2013 showed RM1.2 billion was paid by the government to foreign consultants in 2009, RM1.6 billion in 2010, RM1.7 billion in 2011, RM1.8 billion in 2012, and RM721 million from January to October 2013.

“What does this mean? A month the government paid foreign consultants RM125 million on average, one day they paid them RM4 million,” Anwar.

On Tuesday, Mustapa had said the EPU under the Prime Minister’s Department had never spent RM2 billion as claimed by the Port Dickson MP, and that only a “very small cost” was involved.

Mustapa had said the document was prepared by EPU officers under his supervision, with input from various parties, and had requested Anwar to correct his statement.

Anwar today then highlighted another Parliamentary response from April 2020 from the Minister of Finance which detailed how services of local consultants has a payment cap of RM500,000 regardless if those appointed are local companies or public universities.

“But for foreign consulting companies, payments of RM50 million or more than RM50 million can be given.

“So I ask Klang if he agrees the government should stop relying on foreign consultant and auditors, because there are those with the abilities, the expertise, the local universities and even civil servants who are capable of doing the job,” Anwar said, to which Santiago answered in the affirmative.