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Election Watch

Don’t condone indiscipline

Source: The Star
Date: 27 October 2011 

THE Auditor-General will win more public respect and support for his transparency and accountability as shown in his Report 2010 on the state of financial management in our country.

The Government should also be given credit for enabling the A-G to exercise his independence and integrity in tabling the Report in Parliament, although somewhat belatedly.

The highlight and crux of the A-G’s Report is gratifying. The A-G Tan Sri Ambrin Buang has stated clearly that the “Financial Statement of the Federal Government reflected the true picture of its financial status as at Dec 31 last year”.

Although this approval is to be expected, it is nevertheless significant as there are many at this time who are cynical about the credibility and accountability of government finances!

Another source of satisfaction is the A-G’s assurance that there has been a “marked improvement in financial management of government departments and ministries”.

But, the overall good report card is badly marred by the A-G’s sharp observation that nine ministries overspent by RM3.73bil! What a shame? This is our hard-earned taxes that have been spent without proper authority.

This is sheer financial indiscipline for which the officers and staff concerned must be held fully accountable and severely disciplined. The Government should not condone nor be seen to condone or tolerate financial and fiscal indiscipline.

In fact, the A-G’s report should be carefully scrutinised by the MACC to check for elements of corrupt practices.

There should be closer collaboration between the A-G’s Office and the MACC to step up any flagging in the fight against corruption, which is still very serious!

But how could 11 Government Linked Companies have got away with not paying dividends to the Government for several years despite making profits for three consecutive years?

Those concerned might have been sacked if they were in the private sector.

Their prompt settlement of dividends to the Government could have reduced the large government Budget deficits.

It is hoped that the A-G will insist that the dividends will be paid back to the Government immediately.

GLCs, including Giatmara, that paid inflated prices for purchases, should not be allowed to think that they are above and beyond the Government’s prudential standards.

The public will have to be more vigilant and ensure that the useful A-G’s Report will be debated thoroughly by all Parliamentarians, without any attempts at politicking or protecting those politicians and officials who have shown financial laxity and ineptitude!

As recommended by the A-G, the Government would need to spend more funds on training in financial management, supervision and monitoring, to focus more on preventive measures to reduce financial mismanagement.

This is essential to protect the taxpayers funds, rather than take delayed action, particularly after the horses have bolted from the stable!

Even the National Sports Institute did not obtain approval from the Treasury to purchase 23 horses at RM5.66mil.

Thus, even the horses got away without approval! And this is not a joke, especially for taxpayers who must be rightly fuming!

Now that the A-G has wisely introduced a good Accountability Index, we hope that the public will watch its performance closely in the public interest.

The public can now have a better basis to see the light in the darkness of bad accounts.

They could then express their displeasure and disapproval of ministers and officials concerned, especially when the time comes to determine their official contributions to good governance and prudential financial management in our country.

TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Chairman
Centre of Public Policy Studies

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