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Actions needed to stop public fund wastage

  • As usual, the AG's report made a number of recommendations to tackle the identified weaknesses, but sadly there have been scarcely any follow-up actions from the government.

Sin Chew Daily

The recent release of the second series of the Auditor-General's Report 2018 brought us something many Malaysians have been very much accustomed to. Irregularities and abuse of power on the part of government agencies continue to be disclosed, squandering enormous sums of public funds.

Agriculture and agro-based industry ministry, for instance, has been singled out for mismanagement in its incentive and subsidy scheme for paddy farmers, disbursing RM57.92 million in quarterly subsidies and incentives to between 3,210 and 7,061 deceased farmers.

Public Accounts Committee chairperson Noraini Ahmad has pointed out that the AG's report showed there were six counts of inappropriate disbursements involving government agencies amounting to RM344.54 million, highlighting the seriousness of the problem and urgency to expedite public service reforms.

Auditor-General Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid has put things forthright that grave mistakes continue to be committed at all government departments, including confusing payment methods, poor management of government contracts, below par engineering works, supplies and services, among others. The crux of this issue lies with non-compliance with government regulations before a project is carried out, lack of close and sustained supervision of a contractor's work progress, and lack of the experience in proper project management, etc.

As usual, the AG's report made a number of recommendations to tackle the identified weaknesses. The thing is, such irregularities have been in place for way too long but no effective solutions have come out from the government to remedy the situation.

As a matter of fact, the irregularities highlighted in the AG's report are nothing new to Malaysians. The same things happen again year in and year out with the only differences being the departments and quantum involved.

The AG's report has highlighted the problems and their causes, but what is more important is the follow-up actions. It is imperative that the government seriously look into the recommendations in the report and take the necessary actions to rectify the mistakes.

The report also pointed out that some government agencies had failed to adhere to the guidelines before implementing a project. In view of this, it is essential for the government to inspect this phenomenon and bring the culprits to book.

As for the issue of mismanagement, incompetent managers must be replaced and efficiency enhanced. Most importantly, the government must institute a comprehensive management machinery to reward the competent and punish the violators in order to take government agencies step by step towards optimal operational efficiency while minimising the incidence of irregularities.

Everyone knows it is very difficult to ensure that every civil servant at each agency will fully abide by the rules given the sheer size of government institutions. Nonetheless, the government must still tighten its grip to minimise the recurrence of similar mistakes lest the hard-earned money contributed by taxpayers will be squandered.

 

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