KUALA LUMPUR: The government needs to explain the actual cost of the 5G telecommunications service as the cost seems to keep going up, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said.
He said the figures quoted range from RM11 billion to RM15 billion and even RM28 billion and asked for clarity as it will be the rakyat who will have to pay the bill.
“We need to know why a company is chosen. And why is the cost going up?
“The rakyat are suffering, people are without jobs, schools without facilities and there are not enough laptops but we want to spend billions (on 5G),” he said while debating the 2022 Supply Bill in the Dewan Rakyat.
Anwar said the tender process should have been transparent and people must know “which company has been given the tender and which agent or VIP is involved”.
A government special purpose vehicle (SPV), Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), has been set up to undertake the project and Malaysia has given Ericsson a 10-year deal for the 5G rollout.
Anwar further asked if the government’s 6% gross domestic product (GDP) target announced in Budget 2022 last week was realistic.
He said even developed countries like the US, Europe, China and Singapore have announced lower targets of 4% to 5%.
“Ours at 6% is the highest in the world,” he claimed.
Even the projected government revenue of RM234 billion was not realistic, he said, asking how the revenue could be as high as in 2019 when the country is still reeling from the health crisis.
In 2019, he said, it was RM264 billion, with a RM30 billion special dividend from Petronas.
Anwar also asked about the number of jobs created last year after millions were spent. He said that in August 2020, unemployment was reported at 4.5% and the following month it went up to 4.6%.
Under Budget 2021, the government said it would create 500,000 jobs. This year, it said it would create another 600,000 jobs under Budget 2022.
“What is the success from last year?” he asked.
He further said that salaries have remained stagnant despite the rising costs over the years.
The special allocation for sanitary pads for women in the B40 group showed the level of poverty in Malaysia, he said, adding that any parent earning RM2,000 with five children would need assistance.