Monday, September 17, 2007

AG’s report: Haul errant ministers before PAC (Malaysiakini)

AG’s report: Haul errant ministers before PAC
Sep 17, 07 4:35pm

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi can stop the “farce” about accountability after each year’s release of Auditor-General’s report by directing all his ministers to appear before the powerful parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.

“Otherwise, nothing has changed whatsoever in the past four years of the Abdullah premiership and what we are seeing is another annual season of farce and bellyaching about accountability after the AG’s report, but which means absolutely nothing,” thundered Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang in a statement today.

Last Tuesday, Abdullah said he had directed all errant ministers to explain to the cabinet why their ministries have been accused of mismanaging funds and other irregularities. He added that “each and every matter raised must be explained in detail”.

“(But) why are the ministers only required to explain to the cabinet and not to Parliament and the nation?” asked Lim.

The Auditor-General Report 2006, which was released two weeks ago, detailed a litany of mismanagement of public funds by a number of ministries, including the Youth and Sports Ministry, involving the purchase of items and equipment costing more than triple their market price.(see chart)

It has been widely reported that the ministry had paid RM8.4 million more than market price for 13 items included in its budget - everything from screwdrivers to crane towers.

The ministry's secretary-general was also reported to have signed, on behalf of the government, 11 contracts worth RM8 million to RM74 million pertaining to the National Skills Training Institute.

Meanwhile, several quarters have also asked Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is also the defence minister, to explain the RM6.75 billion scandal of six navy patrol boats that are have either not been delivered or not operational.

Malaysians getting weary

Lim (left) said that Malaysians are getting “quite weary” of the AG’s report exposing year-in and year-out corruption, criminal breach of trust and mismanagement of public funds.

He said this is often followed by the chorus of response from the authorities promising remedial action but only to see “all taper off into public amnesia after a few days of media banner headlines until the ritual is repeated in the following year”.

“It is only when the cabinet is prepared to make such a decision requiring all ministers to appear before the PAC to explain why their ministries had been accused of mismanaging funds and other irregularities ... that Malaysians can believe that the prime minister is serious about accountability, transparency, financial probity and ministerial responsibility.”

The 14-member PAC - which is headed by Johor Baru MP Shahrir Abdul Samad - does not have enforcement power, but it can publicly tick off errant ministers.

It has four opposition parliamentarians, including Kepong MP Tan Seng Giaw, who is deputy chair of the committee.

No comments: