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May 11, 2008

5 May 2008: Cover Story: The wang ehsan money trail

edgedaily - The statistics speak volumes of the discord between Terengganu's government expenditure and the socio-economic status of the people in the state.

Terengganu would easily qualify as the state with the biggest budget in peninsular Malaysia. Thanks to its natural resources, it gets more than RM1 billion each year from the federal government in oil royalties that give the state enough firepower to undertake fairly large projects on its own.

For instance, in the 2008 Budget, the budget was RM1.67 billion, of which RM1.5 billion was non-revenue income (penerimaan bukan hasil), which mainly constitutes the state's share of oil royalties from the federal government.

To give an idea of how large the budget is — in comparison, Selangor's budget is only RM1.3 billion. And Selangor's population is nearly five times more than Terengganu, which has slightly more than a million people. The Sultan is the present Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

While Selangor can claim to be the most developed state in the country, Terengganu comes nowhere close. In fact, the state has one of the highest poverty levels in the country. According to past budget speeches, in 2004 Terengganu's poverty rate was 10.6% — far higher than the national average of 5.1%.

Couple this with allegations of lavish spending by the state administration when Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh was the Menteri Besar, and it's enough to send ripples through the state. In Terengganu's case, it went right up to the palace.
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