Sunday 04 Jun 2023
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KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 5): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced on Monday (Dec 5) that the new Cabinet has agreed to cut the monthly salary of ministers by 20%, and that the decision reflects the Cabinet members’ concern for the problems faced by the people now, according to Bernama.

The salary cut would remain in effect until the country’s economy recovers. “If the economy recovers in three years’ time, we will review…this salary cut is appropriate, but I would like to thank them (the ministers) for their willingness to make a bit of sacrifice,” Anwar said.

“Some people say Anwar is willing to forgo the prime minister’s salary because he is getting the finance minister’s pay. That is not correct…there is only one salary,” he was quoted as telling a press conference after chairing the first special Cabinet meeting of the unity government in Putrajaya on Monday (Dec 5).

Possible savings of up to RM4.6 mil a year

Our back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the government should save at least RM2 million a year or about RM163,000 a month from Anwar forgoing the finance minister’s salary of RM22,826.65 per month and his Cabinet agreeing to the 20% cut in their monthly salaries. That’s purely based on salaries foregone, and assuming Anwar only names one deputy for each of the 27 ministries.

The savings goes up to about RM4.5 million to RM4.6 million a year, if one takes into consideration the fact that Anwar’s Cabinet is leaner than the 31/32 ministers and 38 deputies under former prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri’s and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s administrations, respectively.

Put in another way, Anwar’s administration will save more money by having a leaner Cabinet than the pledged 20% pay cut — with savings of at least RM2.5 million to RM2.7 million a year from salaries alone — by appointing six to seven less ministers and 11 less deputy ministers than his immediate two predecessors had.

The calculations are based on 12 months, without taking into account bonuses and other allowances, which were not mentioned. The numbers could vary, given that Anwar has yet to announce the list of deputy ministers at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, on criticism against his Cabinet line-up, Bernama reported that the new prime minister believes and trusts that his Cabinet team is determined to ensure they follow strict rules and the principle of good governance.

“We are determined. I made it very clear, and the ministers are very clear. On the issue of good governance and the anti-corruption drive, there is no compromise,” Anwar said.

Without naming anyone, he also said that those who had been harping on the kleptocracy issue had very much compromised on big dealings themselves, which had benefited their sons, children and in-laws.

“I must remind them that if you really want to get to the bottom of it, you must be prepared to be truly transparent and be truly investigated. Investigations cannot be selective, and that is our position,” said Anwar, who is also the finance minister.

Anwar further said that good policies that were implemented by the previous government would be continued by the unity government.

“Good agreements, contracts? No problem. We will follow…this government will continue with the existing system. It’s just that we will be firmer in making changes.

“If it is clear that tenders worth tens of billions did not follow procurement (the procedures), or if projects costing tens or hundreds of billions were approved without following the process, we definitely have to review [them]. This is not my money; it is the people’s money."

As for bills that have been tabled but could not be passed prior to the dissolution of Parliament to make way for the 15th general election (GE15), Anwar said they would be reviewed by Minister of Law and Institutional Reform Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. The deferred bills include the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022.

“She would bring the matter to the Cabinet, and a decision would have to be made by the ministers. But if the proposed laws are good, including from the Barisan Nasional (BN) or Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, we will continue [with them],” he said.

'Accept the fact and stop disputing the power, authority and wisdom of the King'

According to Bernama, Anwar said he had explained to the Cabinet the chronology of events of the formation of the new government to refute allegations, and to clarify the facts.

“I think it is time to accept the fact and stop disputing the power, authority and wisdom of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. However, this does not prevent other efforts, which are in line with parliamentary practice and democracy, to reject and the like. But it is not appropriate to dispute its legitimacy,” he said.

As for the appointment of Zahid as one of his deputies, Anwar said people have the right to question, but his appointment was made based on various factors.

“He has been charged but not convicted yet, and we have to respect the process. Incidentally, he is the Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman, and in this unity government, I need to consider all these factors.

“I simply find it hard to understand. Those harping on the issue of corruption must be clean. They should not speak out against corruption but then take projects worth hundreds of millions,” he said.

Read also:
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