PETALING JAYA: DAP veteran Tan Seng Giaw has reminded Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng of the burden attached to his job, saying it was unwise to add any more responsibilities to his portfolio.
Speaking to FMT, Tan said the finance ministry was the premier agency managing the nation’s economy and finances, and the scope of its task involved all ministries, departments, statutory bodies and public and private agencies.
“You’re not dealing with one or two sen. In the national budget, you’re dealing with something in the order of nearly RM300 billion.”
He said as it was, there was hardly enough time to carry out one’s responsibilities as finance minister. “You hardly have time. Even if you don’t sleep for 24 hours, you cannot deal with so many things to do.”
Tan denied that his remarks were made in relation to the government-established Tabung Harapan, the national debt relief fund which collects donations from Malaysians.
He said as far as the Tabung Harapan was concerned, it was important for the finance ministry to detail for the public exactly how it fits into the ministry’s mission and vision.
A former MP, Tawfik Ismail, said there should be a clear framework on how money from the fund would be spent.
Tawfik questioned whether the finance ministry had done enough. The ministry provides daily updates on the amount collected on its website and on social media, but Tawfik said: “When people donate through the bank, there’s a clear trail. But if some poor guy takes out his life’s savings and says ‘take all of this’, then how do you account for it?”
He said the fund was a noble and great idea, but many questions were left unanswered.
“Is the money supposed to reduce the debt or eliminate it? When the national budget is presented, will the collections from the Tabung Harapan be offset against what the government collects?”
He also questioned the full amount of the national debt. “The government is still uncovering a lot of things,” he said.