1Malaysia bookstore debt nothing to do with finance ministry, says Guan Eng

The Kedai Buku 1Malaysia was launched by Najib Razak in 2012 to enable people to buy cheaper reading materials. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has clarified that Kedai Buku 1Malaysia (KB1M) was not managed by his ministry but by the education ministry, following claims that publishers are owed RM1.4 million.

However, he confirmed that the Malaysian Institute of Translation and Books (ITBM), which managed KB1M, is a subsidiary of the finance ministry.

“It is a subsidiary of the finance ministry but the education ministry managed it. So you are asking the wrong ministry,” he said when asked about claims by a group of independent publishers that the government owed them RM1.4 million.

The publishers said the amount had been outstanding for three years.

“You should ask the education Minister (Maszlee Malik) but some other time,” Lim said as he and Maszlee hurried off after an event here today to hand over allocations to religious schools.

News reports revealed that KB1M has yet to settle its debts with several publishers even after the project has been abandoned.

Former prime minister Najib Razak launched KB1M in September 2012 as an initiative to enable people to buy cheaper reading materials.

KB1M had five branches operating in urban transformation centres (UTCs) in Ipoh, Kuantan, Alor Setar, Gong Badak (Terengganu) and the ITBM office in Kuala Lumpur.

Because of their financial problems, the bookstores were closed in stages, with its last branch at the ITBM office shut down in mid-December last year.

Earlier, Lim presented Maszlee with a mock cheque for RM25 million as additional allocation for public and private religious schools.

Schools with the potential of becoming high performing schools will be prioritised, Maszlee said.

He said a committee would be set up to identify the schools.

He said although the schools were not directly under his ministry, the government wanted to help those that were registered and not owned by political parties.