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Finance ministry: Close to 76pc of first RM7 billion stimulus package already disbursed

By Wednesday March 4th, 2009 No Comments

PUTRAJAYA, March 4 – Projects under the RM7 billion stimulus package unveiled in November last year are being implemented at a brisk pace nationwide and even in opposition-held areas with the government having already disbursed RM5.29 billion or 75.6 per cent of the package.

“The money has been disbursed for about 38,000 projects throughout the country, benefiting mainly Class F contractors,” Datuk Ir Mohd Othman Zainal Azim, the chief operating officer of the Project Management Unit in the Finance Ministry, told a media briefing here today.

The PMU, a unit under MOF, was set up to oversee and manage the disbursement of funds and work carried out under the stimulus package presented at the Dewan Rakyat by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Najib would also unveil the second stimulus package, which would be more comprehensive and worth more, on March 10.

Mohd Othman said the package has managed to create demand and supply in the economy, sustain employment and boost the housing and infrastructure sectors in efforts to spur the economy now affected by the global recession.

“The full impact of the RM7 billion stimulus package will hopefully be felt in May, contributing to a one percent growth in gross domestic product,” he said.

Among the biggest allocations were for the building of houses as well as roads in the villages and rural areas, he said.

All 38,000 projects were expected to be rolled out by the end of April and the completion of the jobs by August.

“August is our timeline and we will push for it,” he said.

Projects under the RM7 billion package were divided into three categories, with RM2.6 billion allocated for ensuring the rakyat’s well being, RM1 billion to develop quality human capital and RM3.4 billion to strengthen the country’s viability.

Othman said that the various ministries involved in the projects were very responsive in redeploying resources and this has led to 10,000 projects already being rolled out on the ground to the tune of RM940 million.

“By September, at least 90 percent of the RM7 billion will be paid,” he said.

He said every week, tenders were being awarded with the PMU monitoring progress on the ground to ensure that the money was actually spent.

The disbursement of the money was considered a fast track programme and the unit has identified, and where possible, removed constraints.

Compared to normal times, the time taken to disburse the funds has been halved. “We try to reduce the time process and the timeline we put on the ministries are their Key Performance Indicators (KPI),” he said.

He said this would “create the crescendo” to generate velocity which in the process would stimulate economic activity.

“By the end of March, we expect at least RM2 billion on the ground. Although the payment may come two or three months later, the demand (for the project) is created already. This is because contractors will go for hardware, materials, machineries and money will be spent,” he said.

Among the ministries with the biggest allocations was the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, which was entrusted with building houses and road infrastructure.

As for the states, various public infrastructure maintenance programmes and basic infrastructure projects were carried out.

In Sarawak, a maintenance work was even carried out in an opposition held area while the roads in Kampung Sarig were upgraded.

Other projects carried out were addressing the land slide at Batu Kurau in Perak while in Kedah, the programme included repairing hostel complexes for the orphans and underprivileged.

As for schools, Othman said the upgrading of Chinese schools was being done at a brisk pace with 60 percent of related projects completed while the Tamil schools were still at the documenting stage.

Asked what the consequences would be in the absence of the stimulus package, Othman said, “I don’t want to even think about it. It will be very bad.”

He added that the government’s efforts have been fast enough (in implementing the stimulus package)to sustain the nation’s quality of life, and the reception from recipients such as contractors has been positive.

“The PMU will ensure that the target (to monitor and finance projects) has been set and will be met. We want to create that peak and have it all compressed. The idea is that the money must flow,” he said.

Source : Bernama

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