Tuesday 16 October 2012

Customs officer goes on RM1.82mil shopping spree

  • Aidila Razak
  • 7:21PM Oct 15, 2012
A Customs officer bought hundreds of items not allocated for, raking up a bill of RM1.82 million, the Auditor-General's Report 2011 reveals.

The officer, who is not named in the report, had placed a verbal order for the items, some of these costing several thousands of ringgit, without the procurement division's approval, leaving the Treasury to foot the bill.

He had ordered:
  • An extra 50 GPS navigation systems when he was only authorised to order 30, costing RM6,174 each;
  • An extra 100 search lights, when he had obtained approval to order only 50, costing RM1,292.60 each;
  • 60 beacon lights at RM1,311 each;
  • 250 rechargeable torchlights at RM1,217.16 each; and
  • 100 walkie-talkies at RM5,259 each.
The officer had not been authorised to order any of the last three items.

According to the audit report, the purchases were made in 2007 but the supplier, True Target Resources, could not be paid as the bill went beyond the procurement budget of the Royal Customs and Excise Department.

It added that the Treasury in in 2010 approved the payment and an investigation into how the breach of regulations had taken place was started.

The Finance Ministry on Dec 22, 2010, issued a directive to the Customs Dpartment to lodge a police report against the errant officer.

"However, no action was taken against the officer involved as he had given a 24-hour notice of resignation on Feb 26, 2008," the audit report states.

On May 24, 2012, the Customs Department lodged a police report against the errant officer.

Tourism projects swept into the sea

The auditor-general also ticks off the Tourism Ministry in the 2011 report for "poor location or justification" for some of its tourism infrastructure projects.

The ministry had built 13 gazebo (wakaf) costing a total of RM190,000 and a floating restaurant in Bachok, costing RM200,000 in 2008, but none of these survived.

The audit revealed that the area was close to a river and flood-prone, and that the ministry did not check with the Meteorological Department before building the huts and restaurant.

A replica of a Japanese fort and two gazebo in Kota Bharu, costing RM180,000 that were also built in 2008, were brought down by high tide.

NONEAn appended picture taken in November, 2011 (left) shows the fort and gazebo in pieces in the sea.

"Planning should take into consideration the suitability of land and location to ensure that tourists can use these infrastuctures optimally and safely," the report says.

In response to the audit fundings, the ministry said it would plan better in the future and would consult agencies such as the Meterological Department and the Department of Irrigation and Drainage before doing so.

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