Anwar: BN’s ‘excesses’ can pay for teachers’ allowance

By Boo Su-Lyn, The Malaysian Insider

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed today a Pakatan Rakyat (PR) federal government could afford to pay for a proposed allowance for teachers by cutting out the “wastages” of Barisan Nasional (BN).

The opposition leader was responding to Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s remarks that PR’s promise to teachers would bankrupt the country.

“For example, the cost for Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Razak)’s international trips so far could have paid for the special allowance for 1,450 teachers,” said Anwar in a statement today.

The PR coalition had promised an extra RM500 monthly allowance as part of a slew of election pledges if it takes power in the next general election.

Both BN and PR are preparing for snap polls that are expected to be held early next year.

The Permatang Pauh MP cited BN’s various spending that could be used for the teachers’ special allowance, such as the RM19 billion gas subsidies to what he claimed was the ruling coalition’s “cronies”.

He also cited what he called the RM6 billion bail-out of the Bakun dam and the RM28 billion he estimated was the cost of corruption and shoddy procurement practices.

“The amount thrown away each year for mega wastages… can well pay for the meagre RM3.2 billion needed for the special allowance,” said Anwar.

“Therefore, it is not about affordability. The painful truth is education was never high in Umno or Barisan Nasional’s list of priorities,” he added.

“We took into account that there are 537,221 positions in the education services, covering personnel in the management of the ministry (24,153), the development of education policies (4,059), teachers and school operations (493,399) and lastly the development of teacher’s professionalism (10,610),” he added.

 Anwar further pointed out that the RM3.2 billion figure was “relatively small” compared to BN’s “excesses”.

“Payments of RM77 million made to APCO (Worldwide) for 2009 can pay for the special allowance for 12,800 teaching personnel, equivalent to the total workforce entrusted to train our teachers,” said Anwar.