C4: Transparency, accountability must follow Budget 2021

THE Government must ensure accountability and transparency when disbursing allocations under Budget 2021.

In a statement, Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) said the Government should also be open to public scrutiny when implementing projects under the budget.

“We acknowledge the allocation made for the National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) under Budget 2021, which is continuation from last year.

“At the same time, we must reiterate calls for transparency when using taxpayers’ funds,” it said.

Two days ago, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz tabled Budget 2021 at the Dewan Rakyat, worth RM322.54 bil.

The expansive budget was an addition to the six stimulus packages worth over RM300 bil announced this year, aimed at reviving the economy and push assistance towards those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

C4 Center said while the recruitment of 100 new officers to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was a good move, more personnel alone will not ensure its structural independence.

The movement added that it found several weaknesses in the implementation of the budget, which may subject public funds to be abused.

“One example is the Government’s reliance on foundation or ‘yayasan’. This is notable in the procurement of new laptops for school children, which will see government linked companies (GLC) participating in a pilot project to provide 150,000 students from 150 schools with laptops.

“It will be supervised by Khazanah Nasional Berhad-linked foundation, Yayasan Hasanah.

“Why is a foundation overseeing the project? Isn’t the Education Ministry more aware of which schools would need the laptops and be able to disburse them accordingly? Why so many layers?” it asked.

C4 Center highlighted that annual returns of foundation members are not made public, leaving little room for probe on whether the allocations are actually used for charitable work.

Another problem, it said, whether the procurement process would go through an open tender process, leaving it susceptible to leakages.

 “Without open tender, the funds meant for students may get siphoned, or the tender will go to a company which may not be best suited for the task,” it said.

Citing examples, C4 Centre stated there were cases in the past where companies were given contracts to provide equipment to the Government to combat Covid-19.

These companies, it claimed, had no prior experience in fabricating such equipment, but were instead allegedly linked to high-ranking officials.

C4 Centre also highlighted problems with national infrastructure projects and urged the Government to award projects to deserving companies.

“The public needs assurance the projects are going to companies which have good track records in similar large-scale projects, or have been proven capable of undertaking such tasks.

“Budget transparency would go a long way in building public confidence,” it remarked. – Nov 8, 2020



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