By Farrah Naz Karim
From: http://www.nst.com.my/articles/2fnk2aB/Article//Article (accessed 30 October 2011)
Read more: MACC begins probe<br><small>36 files opened on irregularities highlighted by auditor-general</small> http://www.nst.com.my/articles/2fnk2aB/Article//Article#ixzz1cEOfOEEm
PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has begun a series of investigations into irregularities revealed in the Auditor-General’s Report 2010.
Less than a week after the report was made public, MACC has opened 36 files, including scores of investigation papers on, among others, elements of non-compliance and falsification of documents by government agencies.
MACC investigations director Datuk Mustafar Ali said the investigations were initiated as it believed several areas highlighted by the report warranted probing.
“However, when I say we are looking at 36 cases, some of them are to ascertain if there are grounds to pursue them.
“We’ll also look out for elements of negligence, ignorance and those that involve graft,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.
Mustafar said that in probing “unrealistic” spending by certain agencies, MACC would also study specifications submitted prior to the purchase of the items.
“For instance, if what was submitted was specs ‘A’ but the purchases did not reflect them and turned out to be specs ‘B’, that should not have happened.
“When this sort of non-compliance happens and payment is made, that is considered falsification of documents. This is clearly an offence under Section 18 of the MACC Act.”
Asked if MACC felt the differences in pricing highlighted in the report were absurd, Mustafar said his officers refrained from drawing premature conclusions but would look at the evidence in each case.
The report, tabled in Parliament on Monday, highlighted several glaring discrepancies in the spending of several government agencies.
They included the Marine Parks Department’s RM56,350 purchase for a pair of night vision goggles (despite its market value being RM1,940), as well as the payment of RM56,350 (instead of RM2,827) for a pair of Bushnell binoculars.
The report also listed four other items that showed the department paid 77 per cent to 2,805 per cent more than it should have been, leading to a price difference of RM172,501.
The department had purchased a laptop colour printer for RM11,845 (246 per cent more than the market value of RM3,428), a LCD television with DVD player for RM16,100 (when the market value was only RM2,182) as well as colour marine radar for RM56,350 (when it could be bought for RM8,255).
The department’s spending on a hand-held portable VHF transceiver was also questioned as they paid 177 per cent more for the items at RM4,324 (instead of RM2,763 each).
The auditor-general also had an issue with the spending by Majlis Amanah Rakyat on some of its purchases, including an oven at RM1,200 (compared with the market price of RM419), for baking and pastry-making courses in Kelantan.
Also in question are payments made for the procurement of folding beds at RM500 (against the market price of RM100), two-burner gas cookers at RM200 each (rather than RM59.90), hair clippers supplied at RM250 each (instead of RM79) and a blender at RM140 (instead of RM60).
The auditor-general also noted that most of the purchases were done through direct negotiations, not open tender, and without the Finance Ministry’s approval.
Standard operating procedures were also disregarded as the intention for purchase of the items was not tabled before the Mara board of directors for approval.
The auditor-general, in its recommendation to prevent a recurrence of such absurd purchases, had asked that experienced staff be put in charge of ordering items on behalf of the government, adding that research should be done to compare prices in the market before an order was placed.
Meanwhile, Public Accounts Committee chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said the panel would sit next week to look into the discrepancies highlighted in the report.
He had said on Monday that at least seven of the ministries or agencies would need to explain their weak financial management. They included the Health Ministry, Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry, Transport Ministry, Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, Inland Revenue Board, Customs Department and National Stadium Corporation. (emphasis added).