RM620m public funds losses: Ombudsman urgently needed

It is disconcerting that, instead of focusing on such grave concerns, MPs are more riled up when discussing Timah, C4 Center says.

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Once again, non-compliance in financial management among federal ministries and departments has caused the Malaysian public a total of RM620m in losses and wastage in 2020, as reported recently.

This latest figure brings such disgrace to the nation as we are not yet out of the woods from the battle against the Covid pandemic and the country could use every single sen to rebuild the economy and improve its wellbeing.

The auditor general’s report on the federal government’s financial statements and the federal ministries and departments’ compliance audit for the year ending 31 December 2020, stated that the over RM600m million in losses comprised RM510m in irregular payments, RM105m in (unknown) losses and RM5m million in wastage (involving equipment that was received late and not installed at Istana Budaya).

Leakages and wastage through government projects, especially stemming from the procurement sector, have become some a common feature that is draining the country of of its resources.

Worse is when the people’s projects, which should have been allocated adequate sums of taxpayers’ money, eventually get reported back with overpriced purchases, extravagant spending, wastage, cost overruns, delays in completion of projects and low-quality deliverables.

The problem of millions of ringgit being unaccounted for through the government system keeps happening and is worsening every year.

It is disconcerting that, instead of focusing on such grave concerns, MPs in Parliament are more riled up when discussing Timah, an unknown whisky name, and trying to complicate the situation further by alluding that it intended meaning was the “name of a Malay woman”! How more shallow can this get?

In light of the losses revealed by the attorney general, the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) reiterates its call for the government to:

  • Fast track the creation of an independent ombudsman’s office to address maladministration and enhance integrity and governance in public complaints matters. Although Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaacob had made an announcement that it would be tabled next year, C4 calls for this to be fast tracked
  • Include misconduct in public office as a new provision under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009 to outline deliberate behaviours that cause leakage and loss of government funds deliberately as a criminal offence.
  • Strengthen the auditor general’s powers to check government contracts without the consent of the finance minister in line with the Audit Act 1957 so that the attorney general can investigate or confront suspicious transactions
  • Publish decisions on the awarding of contracts, along with the justifications for selection and rejection, improve in-progress monitoring, and mandate asset declarations by public procurement officials.

We are still fighting a raging pandemic, which has pushed the country into a deep recession over the past two years, and still trying our best to recover.

Such a substantial amount of money, of over RM620m, lost through such ignominious means, could have been used to alleviate the Malaysian peoples’ financial burdens and reduce ballooning government debt.

Any intention to deny the people their rights should be regarded as an offence under the law, and those found to be abusing their positions in public office should be hauled up before the law and punished for their abhorrent crimes. – C4 Center

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Paul Lim
Paul Lim
9 Nov 2021 4.00am

Who has pocketed all these monies?