KUALA LUMPUR: Lim Guan Eng today said the Kelantan government’s decision to buy 14 German luxury cars for its menteri besar and state executive council members despite not having enough funds for its civil service payroll raises some “important questions”.
Putrajaya approved a RM100 million loan for Kelantan in November which, Lim said, was to ensure the civil servants in the state would be paid on time.
In 2018, Lim told the Dewan Rakyat that Kelantan was unable to pay its civil servants and that the east coast state had requested a RM97 million loan from the federal government.
Speaking to the media today, Lim did not rule out the possibility of another loan to help pay civil servants’ salaries in the state.
“Of course this will raise some very important questions,” he said when asked if the federal government would consider assisting Kelantan to pay civil servants’ salaries again in view of the recent car purchases.
“How can you afford to buy Mercedes-Benz cars but cannot afford to pay your civil servants their salaries? Something is not right,” he said after launching state-backed Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Berhad’s (SJPP) Budget 2020 schemes at a hotel here today.
Pressed to answer if the federal government would indeed help the Kelantan government pay its public servants if needed, Lim said the ministry would “cross that bridge when it comes to it”.
“I don’t want to sacrifice the interests of, and benefits due to, civil servants as they are not guilty of doing anything wrong,” he said.
Kelantan Deputy Menteri Besar Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah last week confirmed that the purchase of 14 German luxury cars was meant for the menteri besar, state executive council members and the state secretary, after a report which went viral on social media showed a picture of a Mercedes-Benz for Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob estimated to be worth nearly RM700,000.
The Kelantan Menteri Besar’s Office said the car was bought using a special allocation of RM400 million to the state, resulting in criticism that the state was mismanaging its funds.
The menteri besar’s office said the state government had decided in 2018 to replace the official vehicles of the menteri besar and exco members in stages, as some of the vehicles were 10 to 12 years old.
Lim said he was not aware if the Kelantan state government had applied for tax exemptions to buy the Mercedes-Benz cars, adding that he also did not know whether the cars had gone through the Customs Department.