The Federal Government has budgetted over RM100 million for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations.
This was finally admitted by the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Awang Adek this evening during the winding-up of the two-day policy debate on the 2007 Supplementary estimates.
At first Awang said the original estimates for the 50th Merdeka Anniversary celebrations under the Prime Minister’s Department was RM74 million, and with the additional supplementary vote of RM18.25 million requested, making up a total of RM93 million. The government spent RM38 million for the Merdeka anniversary in 2006 and RM35 million in 2005.
He said the expenditure of RM93 million for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations were proper and justified once in 50 years and in creating a sense of national unity for the occasion, which was priceless.
Seeking clarification, I asked firstly, whether these are the “final” and “absolute” figures or whether there would be other expenditures for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations which would come before Parliament in future supplementary estimates.
Secondly, I pointed out that in the 2007 supplementary estimates there were at least two other items of specific expenditures for the 50th Merdeka anniversry celebrations in other minisries, viz RM7.2 million for all parliamentary constituencies for the 50th Merdeka anniversary under the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage and RM8 million under the Ministry of Youth and Sports for Youth Day programme in connection with the 50th Merdeka anniversary.
I asked for the ‘grand total” of all expenditures for all Ministries in connection with the 50th Merdeka annivesary celebrations and not just the allocations for the Prime Minsiter’s Department.
In his reply, Awang admitted that there were other items of expenditures outside the Prime Minister’s Department like the RM7.2 million figure (he did not touch on the RM8 million item) which would bring the total to RM100 million. He said he could not give a categorical answer that there would not be other figures but as far as he knew these were the substantial sums, and if there were other items they would not be major ones.
He said with 26 million population, the RM100 million tag worked out to about RM3 or RM4 per person once in 50 years, symbolising the peace, harmony and welfare enjoyed by the people.
When I asked for the major heads of expenditures, Awang gave the following breakdowns:
(i) August 17 Launch of Merdeka Anniversary celebrations and raising the Jalur Gemilang (Malacca) – RM3 million
(ii) August 30 Ambang Merdeka (Dataran Merdeka, KL) – RM8.2 million
(iii) August 31 Merdeka Parade (Dataran Merdeka, KL) – RM26 million
(iv) August 31 Merdeka Tea Party – RM1,000
(v) August 31 Massive Merdeka Celebrations (Merdeka Stadium, KL) RM17 million
(vi) Sept. 10 Close of Merdeka anniversary celebrations (Kuching) RM4 million
(vii) Flying Jalur Gemilang RM8.5 million