Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Weak management ‘systemic’ problem in government projects, says PAC

Weak management ‘systemic’ problem in government projects, says PAC

November 23, 2011
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Weak management is a “systemic” problem in government projects such as the National Feedlot Centre (NFC), the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said today.

A visibly frustrated PAC chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said that the problems surrounding the NFC was an indication of a much bigger problem concerning the management of such projects, and that it needed to be revamped.

“Something must be not right if all agencies are like this . . . this type of problem has occurred repeatedly for years since the PAC conducted its hearings.

“The management system needs to be re-looked at, although relevant ministries may be telling the truth . . . the public is fed up,” Azmi told reporters here.

“This is a recurring problem in all departments. If the government wants the country to progress by 2020, then these matters need to be addressed,” he said after interviewing the Ministry of Agriculture over allegations of financial discrepancies involving the cattle project.

Azmi (picture) said the main concern PAC had with the NFC project was the fact that money had been given to NFC management in 2008/2009 through a special account, when the agreement deal for the project was only inked last year.

The PAC chief said the committee would be calling the Finance Ministry, the Chief Secretary to the government and two more government agencies in January next year over the matter.

“Mismanagement, miscoordination . . . this will affect the administration,” said Azmi.

The NFC has been dogged by allegations of corruption and fund misappropriation after it made it into the pages of the Auditor-General’s Report for 2010, which described the project “as a mess”.

Among others, PKR has alleged that the NFC funds were used for federal minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil’s personal expenses and that of her family, as well as to buy multimillion-ringgit condominium units at the luxurious One Menerung in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Shahrizat’s husband and NFC boss, Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail, finally emerged last week in the face of the attacks to break his family’s silence in the matter, and moved to defend the purchase of the condo as well as deny the alleged failure of the project.

PKR scoffed at Mohamad Salleh’s remarks, saying he had failed to deny a single allegation and had merely offered explanations for the many discrepancies involving the NFC.

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar has denied the NFC was ever discussed in Cabinet, claiming it was handled by the Cabinet Committee for High-Impact Projects, which was then chaired by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

PKR had alleged on Monday that the funds meant for the NFC were used to fund umrah packages and set up two Singapore-based companies, both owned by Senator Shahrizat’s family.

Party leaders claimed to have proof that Mohamad Salleh had ordered payment of RM31,580 to be made for his haj pilgrimage and that of his son Wan Shahinur Izran Mohamad Salleh in 2010.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution, who is also Machang MP, had urged the police and the PAC to probe all transactions between the NFC and the National Meat and Livestocks Corporation (NMLC) and Real Food Company (RFC). Both NMLC and RFC are majority owned by Mohamad Salleh and his children Izran and Izmir.

He said this was because financial records showed that Singapore-based firms Global Biofuture Pte Ltd and Meatworks Singapore Pte Ltd, both of which are also owned by Shahrizat’s family, currently have debts with the RFC.

As at June 2010, he said, Global Biofuture, which ran a food and fuel business, owed RFC RM939,495.

In the same period, Meatworks, a luxury restaurant chain, was found to be owing RFC RM2,416,815, he added.

Police is investigating the NFC for cheating or criminal breach of trust.

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