Malaysiakini Letter

NFC: Gov't displays glaring lack of financial controls

Ronald Benjamin  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The lack of financial prudence of the government in the disbursement of public funds worth RM250 million for the cattle farm project managed by the family of Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, is an example of poor risk management.

What makes things worse is the reasoning of current Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Noh Omar that if the money had been paid to the National Feedlot Centre after fulfilling certain conditions, the government cannot control what the NFC does with it because it is considered the company's money.

The question is, what were these conditions?

Were they broad enough to cover risk? The reasoning of the minister does not cover the broad criteria of viability of a project.

Sad that this type of skewed reasoning comes from a person who is supposed to portray accountable behavior in the management of public funds.

It is obvious that the government has failed in a vital principle that limited resources should be used for the right projects to bring high returns to the rakyat.

This project comes in the context where low income Malaysians are finding hard to make ends meet.

There is a lot of talk of cutting subsidies to balance the accounts of the government.

There are many reasons given by commentators on this issue since it cropped up, but the critical question is whether there is a proper risk management system in place related to public funds.

What was the basis and reasoning for this project? Why was the National Feedlot Centre chosen? Was it based on competence? Was risk assessment done for this project?

Were there key success areas decided upon and quality objectives set? Were goals set and milestones created?

What were the criteria set by the Finance Ministry for the allocation of funds for this project?

What can be seen in this whole affair is that the government has poor risk management systems in place, no check and balance mechanisms, a poor understanding of risk management and the lack of prudence on the part of the ministry of finance.

They should be held accountable for lack of proper checks and balances.

The question is why has the culture of mismanagement of public funds become a norm in the governing culture of the BN?

The clear reason is the hegemonic power of the BN which over the years have weakened the processes that nurture accountability among ministers.

Malaysia is the only country where ministers can get away with incompetence and stay in the job.

It should be acknowledged that the auditor general has shown independence by coming up with impartial reports.

The real question that bugs the mind of thinking Malaysians is what action would be taken against culprits who misuse public funds, and why do such things take place under the watch of government regulatory bodies?

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