Another spin to the HIV funding cut
Which do you think is the better spin?
– We did not cut funding, we merely delayed it ~ Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai
– We did not cut funding, we merely allocated a smaller budget ~ MOH deputy director-general Lokman Hakim
Let me explain to you what these spinmasters are not telling you. The end result is that HIV/AIDS-related social work is badly hit because they are not getting the funding they need. Spinning it as delayed allocation or not allocating “unutilised funds” is just bizarre. It also makes my blood boil to think we are quibbling over a few million ringgit when you look at things like RM500 million spent on commission for a glorified travel agency or even RM50 million lost due to misappropriation of public funds
KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry insisted that it did not cut the much-needed funding meant for fighting the HIV/Aids pandemic. Instead, the ministry’s deputy director-general Lokman Hakim said that the seemingly less fund allocated this year was due to the absence of “unutilised funds”.
“Why are you saying [that we] cut [the] funding?…We have never cut any fund from the government…We have already allocated RM5.3 million [this year],” he said during an event today.
He said this after reporters asked him why the Health Ministry allocated a smaller budget for HIV/Aids social work programmes earlier this year.
Social groups have previously told FMT that thousands of HIV/Aids patients were in danger of being left in a lurch because of an alleged massive cut in government funding. These groups depend on money from the ministry, which is disbursed by the Malaysian Aids Council (MAC). Some of these NGOs have told FMT that they have had to stop their operations when these funds were supposedly cut.
Previously, it was reported that RM7.8 and RM7.2 million were allocated for these projects in 2010 and 2011 respectively. For this year, it was only RM5.3 million. Previous years had these “unutilised funds”, whilst this year’s did not.
Lokman also defended the ministry’s decision to not allocate money for some groups as they were unable to justify their spending. “The amount you ask must be justified with what you’re proposing. Some of the activities are not justifed. NGOs must understand the issue. These are public funds,” he said. Lokman admitted that the ministry depended on the NGOs to combat the HIV/Aids pandemic.
To groups that had not gotten funding, he added: “We hope that all the NGOs that have not received their funding to cooperate and submit whatever documentation [if they want to get the funding].”