A-G’s Report – Who’s Listening?

No more wasteful spending??? Just surf the net for data on budgets of certain departments or renovation costs for certain buildings and you can start shaking your head sans Beatles music!!

The Star reported on Oct 12th, 2007 HERE that Government officers and staff investigated for corruption and mismanagement of public funds under the 2006 Auditor-General’s (AG) report will either be charged in court soon or face disciplinary action including demotions and dismissal. The statement was made by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan who clarified that the Government would use a three-pronged approach to rectify problems highlighted under the AG’s report.

Today, The Star published Waste Not, Graft Not HERE to remind us that incidents of poor management of funds and abuse have been listed in the Auditor-General’s report over the past few years and aptly asked if this year’s report will be any different.

The Auditor-General’s Report 2006 made headlines and highlighted the extreme waste of taxpayers’ money which greatly irked the public. For example, a set of screwdrivers retails for RM32 but the National Youth Skills Institute paid RM224 for it. Likewise, a set of technical pens costs RM160 but the organisation forks out RM1,146 for it.

Year in and year out, the A-G’s Report lists incidents of poor management of funds and abuse are listed over a few hundred pages in the report and together with other concerned citizens, I am awaiting the latest report to see how the ministries and government agencies manage their budget and spend public money – our money! Who listens to the Auditor-General’s Reports and takes the necessary action to resolve the problems highlighted? I have put up a list of amazing reports for your perusal.

This REPORT HERE says that Tourism Malaysia has yet to receive any return on its investments despite pumping in RM41.70million in scandal-hit subsidiary Pembangunan Pelancongan Nasional Sdn Bhd (Pempena) since 1976, according to the Auditor-General’s Report 2008.

The Auditor-General’s Report this year will be out tomorrow unlike previous years when it used to be released on Budget Day.

Please read The Star article HERE to understand the auditing process. I was quite shocked to read the following snippets from the article:

  • In recognition of the importance of the role of the A-G’s Department, the Government recently beefed up its manpower by 30% from 1,600 to 2,000 auditors and non-auditors.
  • People in the civil service don’t seem to be learning lessons from the previous Auditor-General’s Reports because while perpetrators may be different, the wrongdoings are the same.
  • For non-criminal offences, it all boils down to incompetence. This merits action under the disciplinary regulation which has been in place for so many years. This must follow established procedures. There must be a proper investigation, a proper charge, and the officer concerned must be given an opportunity to be heard. And once you charge him, he has the right to appeal. In all agencies, there already is a disciplinary committee and an appeals committee.

A while ago, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah’s made a statement in THE STAR that the Government could be losing billions of ringgit every year through excessive payments for contracts and procurements for a wide range of things.

Public officials MUST be held accountable for whatever!!! Government meetings are open to the press and the public. Budgets and financial statements must be reviewed by anyone and officials must be open to discussion as such measure will reduce the opportunity for the authorities to abuse the system. Thus, we need an open government where the business of government and state administration should be opened at all levels for effective public scrutiny. With transparency, all information is open and freely available.

On Oct 26th 2009, The Star Probe revealed:
● Hundreds of millions of ringgit in overcharging are taking place for ICT, which is a multi-billion-ringgit industry. Contract prices can sometimes be more than 50% than if the deals were done on a tender basis.

● Project finance on favourable terms from foreign countries – the so-called soft loans – can result in contractors being restricted largely to those from the country providing financing, resulting in considerably higher costs.

● Open tenders, done properly and with appropriate evaluation, are one of the most effective ways of reducing the costs to government. At least two state governments see great benefits in open tenders.

● Malaysia falls short in comparison with other countries in terms of calling for and disclosure of open tenders and their details. There is no centralised system.

● The Government is keen to cut wasteful spending and will, as far as possible, have open tenders from now on.

Read more at: A-G’s Report – Who’s Listening?