A-G must be in the loop for govt projects


THE latest Auditor-General’s (AG) Report has highlighted concerns over the lack of oversight in the implementation of several key government projects in 2018, making allocations to ministries and state agencies either redundant or insufficient.

A-G Datuk Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid said underutilised funds, improper payments and work delays were among the problems that could have caused government projects to be unsuccessful.

He said in some cases, the drawbacks come from the appointment of incompetent contractors.

The audit report included evaluations on activities and projects conducted by 10 ministries, including the Prime Minister’s Department, the Finance Ministry and the Education Ministry (MoE), alongside agencies at the state level.

This is the third report for 2018 — the most number of audits carried out in a year — following a move to heighten scrutiny to keep federal and state administrative bodies in check.

The first two reports had been tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on July 15 and Dec 2 last year.

The latest report was tabled yesterday after a four-month delay due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Among the issues raised by the A-G were delays in services and repair work found at the Mass Rapid Transit Line 1 which stretches from Sungai Buloh to Kajang.

He said 2,110 defects and damages were recorded during the defect liability period (DLP) from December 2016 to July 2019, of which 581 or 27.5% have not been completed. “This means, in some cases, it takes them more than two years to get the repairs done,” Nik Azman told reporters at a briefing in Putrajaya yesterday.

The latest check by the National Audit Department showed that 85 defects remain unaddressed as of Jan 14, 2020 — 182 days after the DLP ended.

Over the same three-year period, Nik Azman said there were 137 delays recorded, which ranged from five to 110 minutes (nearly two hours).

“The main complaint was service delays and this affects confidence in public transport.

“If repairs take up too much time and delays in train services persist, people will opt for private vehicles instead and that will not serve the government’s purpose,” he said.

Other issues highlighted were losses, improper payments and multiple time extensions awarded to contractors in waterwork upgrades under the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda).

This included 81 projects in Pahang and 77 projects across other states nationwide.

Felda settlers have long struggled to get sufficient water supply needed to keep their crops and sustain their agricultural activities, especially during dry seasons.

The problem was identified as a key issue faced by settlers in the recently held Chini by-election. The A-G said plans to improve water supply at Felda estates, which included constructions or upgrades on water tanks and underground pipes, have failed to meet their deadlines.

He said the earliest was scheduled to finish by September 2016, and the latest by December 2018.

Construction work began as early as March 2013 in Pahang and January 2016 in other states.

He said 52 extensions of time (EOTs) had been approved in Pahang, and another 25 EOTs had been rubber-stamped in other locations across the country. Some 60 projects remained incomplete as of end-2018. The government has allocated a total of RM621 million for the project.

The report also found discrepancies in MoE’s food provision programme at hostels, among others, which cost the government RM3.67 billion from 2016 to 2018.

This included insufficient supplies of raw ingredients, the use of brand products that are different than initially listed and expired food items. The full report is accessible to the public at https://www.audit.gov.my/.