Thursday, March 4, 2021

Virtual Apec summit cost only 20% of allocated budget

The international trade and industry ministry, tasked with organising the summit, returned the balance to the finance ministry.

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Putrajaya managed to save RM233.4 million of the cost of organising the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, using only about one-fifth of the allocated RM300 million budget to host the global conference, International Trade and Industry Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali said.

Azmin said the hosting of Apec 2020 cost RM66.6 million of the RM300 million initially allocated by the previous government as all of the meetings were held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also said his ministry had returned the unused allocation to the finance ministry.

He said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had set aside RM350 million for hosting the summit, including the cost of preparation in 2019 and settlement of other commitments in 2021.

He said of the RM66.6 million for Apec, RM13.1 million was spent by the finance, tourism and home ministries, while the remaining RM53.5 million was used for the series of international conferences involving various other ministries.

The summit held 146 meetings and conferences, ending with the Nov 20 Economic Leaders’ Meeting involving the heads of states of Apec countries.

The summit hosted by Malaysia marked the first time the 21-member bloc meeting was held digitally.

It used to be held with much pomp, with a famous tradition where heads of states would have to be dressed in a national costume of the host country.

The last Apec summit was held in Papua New Guinea in 2018. Last year, host Chile was forced to cancel the summit following anti-government protests.

Malaysia last hosted the summit in 1998 during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first term in power.

In his second term as prime minister, Mahathir announced the Apec summit as part of a timeline for him to step down to allow the transition of power to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.

The PH government however collapsed in February this year.

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