Why allocate another RM25 million for a virtual APEC 2020 summit?

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The Member of Parliament (MP) of Pontian, Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan. PIX: FAREEZ FADZIL / MalaysiaGazette / 29 OKTOBER 2019 APEC 2021 APEC 2020 Budget 2021
The Member of Parliament (MP) of Pontian, Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.PIX: FAREEZ FADZIL / MalaysiaGazette / 29 OKTOBER 2019

By Kumara Sabapatty

KUALA LUMPUR – The Dewan Rakyat sitting was focused on the virtual and digital Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2020 Summit hosted by Malaysia, which has an additional RM25 million projected cost in Budget 2021.

Malaysia was the host for APEC 2020 from 11 until 20 November.

The Member of Parliament (MP) of Pontian, Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan requested the Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali to explain about the huge allocation for a summit which only took place virtually.

“My question is, Deputy Speaker, if a virtual summit requires an allocation of RM25 million. To me, even RM5 million is a lot.

“RM20 million could be spent on other matters to promote export and other relevant matters,” the Pontian MP (BN) questioned during the Dewan Rakyat sitting debate.

In a relevant development, he also said that he was informed that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) had allocated RM60 million for the renovation of the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) to host APEC.

“If that is true, was it fully utilised and was the renovation needed as everything was conducted virtually and digitally?” he added.

Meanwhile, the MP of Bangi, Dr. Ong Kian Ming also posed the similar concerns.

According to him, the original allocation for the APEC conference in Budget 2020 was RM300 million.

“I think, when the APEC Summit was held virtually and digitally, there were a lot of savings including the transportation cost, security cost and other costs.

“I would like to ask the minister (Azmin) about how much savings have been made for APEC 2020 as I deduce that RM300 million was not spent. Therefore, how much savings did we get through a virtual conference?

“It is even more important that if there was a savings in the allocation (APEC) through Budget 2020, then, why is there still an allocation of RM25 million allocation in Budget 2021 for APEC Summit?

“We are not going overseas or anywhere,” he said.

Kian Ming also advised the government to spend prudently and excess budget should be channelled for other noble causes.

According to him, the savings through APEC could be spent on the frontliners and the Ministry of Health who are facing the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Actually, as highlighted by Pontian just now, even if we go to any APEC countries, not only New Zealand but also other countries, it wouldn’t cost RM25 million.

“I agree with Pontian (Ahmad),” he said.

Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau (Tuaran-BN) also supported Ahmad’s statement while questioning the appropriateness of RM25 million for a virtual conference.

“APEC will be held in New Zealand next year and I understand that they will also be holding the summit virtually.

“So, why do we need to allocate up to RM25 million for the virtual summit?” he queried. –MalaysiaGazette

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