Auditor-General’s 2012 Report (3)
by Joseph Sipalan
October 1, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 —The government has been told to take back at least RM11.6 million from Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), after the Auditor-General (A-G) detailed a laundry list of “improper payments” and “unreasonable expenses” incurred in the development of the Malaysian Emergency Response System (MERS) 999.
The figure does not include an RM25.88 million lump sum payment made out to the national telecommunications company by the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry, which the auditor in his 2012 report said could not be verified but was given ministry approval.
In his 2012 annual report released today, the A-G identified numerous issues surrounding the RM801.55 million project, where funds were carved out from various parts of the project over the course of its six-year development by TM from 2007 to 2012.
This included some RM5.07 million spent by the ministry to cover the cost of organising training workshops and seminars and related expenses for TM staff, which the A-G described as unreasonable.
He said it must be recouped from the project contractor.
The report also determined that the ministry should recover RM253,813 spent on an overseas study tour, as it was not part of the terms of the contract with TM, which secured the project via direct negotiation.
TM had also overcharged the ministry by RM1.57 million for operational management and maintenance of the MERS 999, another area where the A-G said the government should reclaim the funds.
The project contractor had at the same time failed to supply equipment worth RM1.03 million – for which the ministry had already paid. On this issue, the A-G stressed that ministry officials and parties proven to be involved must face disciplinary action, while officers who facilitated the payment must face a surcharge as stipulated under the government’s financial regulations.
Yet another area where the A-G recommended disciplinary action and surcharges to be imposed is in the promotion and publicity of the MERS 999, due to excess payment of RM3.19 million by the ministry to TM for nothing since the ministry terminated the promotional programme in 2008.
There is another RM295,036 that the ministry overpaid to TM under phase two of the project development, but the contractor has since agreed to return the money, according to the A-G’s report.
And despite all the extra money paid to TM, the report found that the MERS 999 had performed poorly as a total of 7.65 million calls, or 32.4 per cent of the total calls made to the emergency number were left unanswered.
The A-G, however, lay the brunt of the blame for the project’s many faults on the ministry and the four committees set up to monitor the project’s progress from various angles, and proposed that action be taken under Treasury Order 167 on all committee members who failed in their duties.
Order 167 dictates that controlling officers or public officers are liable to pay for any losses incurred by any projects under their supervision.
”In the opinion of the audit, the monitoring mechanism through the formation of four committees at various levels to oversee the MERS 999 project were not effective in executing their responsibilities and careless in protecting the interests of the government.
”The ministry as the implementing agency, did not pay serious attention on the management and administration of the MERS 999 contract,” the report read.