MOH Gets RM36.3 Billion Allocation For 2023, Including RM3 Billion For Over 1,500 New Permanent And Contract Staff

MOH’s RM36.33 billion allocation for 2023 marks a 12% increase (RM3.9 billion) from 2022. Anwar Ibrahim says the budget includes RM3 billion to hire more than 1,500 permanent and contract doctors, dentists, and pharmacists.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 – Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim today announced an allocation of RM36.3 billion for the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Budget 2023, maintaining the previous administration’s commitment to health.

The RM36.33 billion allocation for MOH under the unity government marks a modest increase of 0.5 per cent than last year’s initial budget announcement of RM36.14 billion by the then-Ismail Sabri Yaakob government.

However, compared to Budget 2022, MOH’s RM36.33 billion allocation for 2023 represents a significant 12 per cent increase from the RM32.41 billion allocated for last year.

“The main component of this allocation includes the need for the procurement of medicines, reagents, vaccines, and consumables, including an RM3 billion allocation for more than 1,500 new permanent and contract appointments of medical, dental, and pharmacy officers who have waited so long,” Anwar, who is also finance minister, told the Dewan Rakyat today when tabling Budget 2023. 

The budget allocation for approximately 1,500 new appointments, including contract staff, raises questions, given that Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa had earlier announced plans to create 4,914 permanent positions for medical (4,263), dental (335), and pharmacy officers (316) in 2023, representing a 17 per cent increase from the 4,186 positions created in 2022.

CodeBlue reported Dr Zaliha as saying at a closed-door town hall meeting with government doctors last Wednesday that the 4,914 permanent positions she had announced arose from vacancies due to resignations, instead of the creation of 4,914 new permanent positions.

The health minister told the town hall that the previous administration had decided to create 1,500 new permanent positions for the health service annually.

Given Anwar’s announcement today, it is unclear if this year will see fewer than 1,500 permanent positions created for doctors, dentists, and pharmacists.

MOH’s Allocation Biggest Percentage Increase Since 2014

With a year-on-year increase of 12 per cent or RM3.9 billion, the MOH’s budget for 2023 marks the highest percentage hike since 2014 and the biggest in terms of absolute numbers.

The MOH will utilise RM31.5 billion from the total allocation of RM36.3 billion in the latest 2023 budget for operating expenses, while RM4.8 billion will be allocated for development expenses.

In the new federal budget, MOH’s share of RM36.3 billion accounts for 9.4 per cent of the RM388.1 billion total budget, which is one per cent lower than its share in the 2022 budget. However, the MOH continues to hold the position of the second-largest allocation in the federal budget after the Ministry of Education.

MOH’s operating expenditure for this year is set to increase by 12.4 per cent (RM3.47 billion) to RM31.5 billion, up from the RM28.03 billion allocated in 2022.

The ministry has also set aside RM4.8 billion for development expenditure in 2023, which is 10 per cent (RM447.7 million) higher than the RM4.38 billion allocated in 2022.

The latest budget announcement comes at a time when the public health service is in crisis. During the town hall session with government doctors on Wednesday, calls for an increase in on-call payments, more permanent positions, and upgrades to old facilities were made.

With an allocation of RM388.1 billion, the government’s latest spending figure for 2023 is the largest in the country’s history, surpassing the initial 2023 fiscal allocation of RM372.3 billion and last year’s record-breaking allocation of RM332.1 billion.

The government’s allocation includes RM289.1 billion for operating expenses and RM99 billion for development expenditure, making up the total allocation.

The announcement of Malaysia’s latest budget comes amid a backdrop of economic uncertainty, with the country grappling with significant debt and liabilities totaling RM1.5 trillion, financial income constraints, and a looming global economic slowdown. 

In its inaugural budget announcement, Anwar’s coalition government unveiled its fiscal plans for 2023, following a closely contested 15th General Election (GE15) last November.

Ismail Sabri’s government proposed an initial government expenditure of RM372.3 billion last November, but the dissolution of Parliament prevented its approval.

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