KUALA LUMPUR: Public Accounts Committe (PAC) chairman Azmi Khalid is forced to intervene to stop his deputy from divulging details on the audit department monitoring the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project.
Flanked by Azmi and Auditor-General Ambrin Buang, PAC deputy chairman Tan Seng Giaw told a press conference in Parliament that the scrutiny was needed as the MRT contract was the biggest project in the country.
“So we want to know how it’s progressing from the beginning. Why was there a direct negotiation for it?” he added.
At this point, Azmi cut in, saying: “I think we are confining ourselves to the AG report. This is too elaborate.”
Ambrin later said that they had already appointed an auditor to monitor the MRT project on an on-going basis.
The AG report was released earlier today, after being delayed for nearly two weeks to allow MPs to debate Budget 2013 first.
Tan said the AG report had pointed out several discrepancies, among them, the Kluang Hospital project which was delayed by more than a year.
“The RM380 million hospital project also did not follow the specifications given by the government.
“And it was awarded using direct negotiation process. Why do you need to give direct tender for a hospital project? There is lack of transparency here,” he said.
Same problems persist
Sharing his views, Azmi said the AG report showed that many government departments had improved on financial planning.
“Over 100 government departments received four star ratings this time around,” he added.
However, he admitted that the usual problems involving government procurement, contracts and maintenance of public infrastructure still persisted in the new report.
Azmi said the PAC would investigate the major cases reported. However, he refused to name specific cases.
“As for the minor ones, we will summon the respective government agencies to explain. However, we must also look at the improvements made by the government agencies,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ambrin said the people must accept the fact that government officers might make some mistakes in the course of planning and implementing a project.
He also said it was due to the involvement of many government officers, such as projects that involve state officers and federal officers.
“They may not be thorough in their scrutiny. So the thrust of the report is to monitor their work,” he said, adding that people must read the report first before coming to a conclusion.
“Let’s be fair. After reading it, then you can form your opinion,” he said.
When pointed out that the same procurement problem was persisting, Ambrin said: “That’s why government heads of department must take lessons from previous reports. So they won’t repeat the same mistakes in the future.”