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Article by :Tharanya Arumugam, Fuad Nizam | NST Online
Source : NST Online
Former auditor general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang believes that punitive measures, such as fines, transfers and wage cuts, are no longer realistic as punishment for those who do not respond appropriately to the recommendations in the Auditor General's (AG's) Report.
Ambrin also believed that the actual amount of leakage and corruption in the civil service could be beyond the cited figures.
He expressed disappointment over the lack of importance given to the AG's report over the years, which he said should be taken seriously.
Ambrin described Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's recent announcement of the RM10 billion leakage that occurred in the government procurement system as a "wake-up call" for the nation to get rid of such poor practice.
"(Anwar's) wake-up call about leakage and corruption is most timely. Think of the huge losses faced by the government," he told the New Straits Times.
Anwar, who is also the finance minister, had said that leakages could be stopped if corruption was eradicated at all levels, including changing the old way of doing things, namely political interference and prioritising the interest of big businessmen in government procurements.
Anwar said in his two months working in the Finance Ministry, he had already identified RM3 billion to RM4 billion in expenditures that could be saved.
Ambrin said government officers should stick to the law and ignore political intervention in government procurements, which carried a high risk of fraud and corruption.
Under the Government Transformation Programme introduced in 2015, the auditor-general had been empowered to follow up on issues raised in the report. A dedicated follow-up division was then set up in the Audit Department.
"The Audit Department does follow-up on the issues and weaknesses it identified and raised in its regular audit reports.
"But audit reports cover only a tiny percentage of the actual number of programmes and projects of the federal and state governments. So, it is difficult to establish the real value of leakage and corruption incurred," he said.
He believed that current punitive actions were not enough to deter offenders.
Despite all the errors identified in previous AG reports, they (offenders) appear oblivious to them, he said.
"We are lenient with offenders now, when in fact, we need to be more strict to create the 'fear factor'.
"Perhaps punitive actions, such as fines, salary deductions, and demotions are not in fact punitive enough. So, there is no fear of punishment," he said without elaborating on the hefty punishment.
In 2021, the World Bank estimated that 20 to 30 per cent of the country's budget for public contracts were wasted.
The finding concurred with Ambrin's projection, who said that up to 30 per cent of the country's public projects' value had been lost due to mismanagement and corruption.
Last year, former economic affairs minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that 178 projects had been classified as "sick"
out of 6,755 projects under the Implementation and Coordination Unit.
He told the Dewan Rakyat that 92 of the "sick projects" were "being attended to or under intervention", with 41 already restored and the rest were work in progress.
A project would be classified as "sick" if it had only achieved 20 per cent of its physical progress at a certain timeline.
The National Audit Department said that in 2020, the government had lost a total of RM620.07 million from non-compliance of federal ministries and departments involving irregular payments, loss of public funds and wastages.
Among the government arms that had been flagged for mismanagement of funds in the AG Report 2021 (Series 1) were the Transport Ministry (Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia) and the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament Malaysia). Additional reporting by Dineshwary Murugan
Date of Input: 23/03/2023 | Updated: 23/03/2023 | faiz_suparman
Blok F, Bangunan Sekolah Perniagaan dan Ekonomi(SPE),
Jalan Persiaran Tulang Daing,
Universiti Putra Malaysia,