AUDIT REPORT It has been more than a year since the devastating floods in December 2014 which displaced some 200,000 but 40 percent of new houses meant for those who lost their homes have yet to be completed, forcing some to still live in tents or transit homes.
This is according to the first series of the Auditor-General's Report 2015 audit of the National Disaster Management Agency (APBN) under the Prime Minister's Department, which was tasked with overseeing the recovery and reconstruction efforts.
The report noted that as part of reconstruction efforts, the government had allocated RM246.73 million for the construction of new homes, dubbed Rumah Kekal Baru (RKB), at the price of RM55,000 each, as well as for repair works capped at RM10,000 per home.
However, the audit found that as of March 2016, only 838 of the 1,395 new homes (60 percent) were built in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Perak.
This was despite the reconstruction project being put on the fast track by the government.
In Kelantan, only 646 of the 1,101 (59 percent) RKB were completed while in Perak, only 42 of the 94 RKB (45 percent) were built.
In Pahang, 134 RKB out of 184 (73 percent) while in Terengganu, all 16 were completed.
It pointed up several issues which plagued the RKB projects, including land title problems, accessibility and even contractors abandoning them due to financial troubles.
The report also criticised the poor utilisation rate of the allocation as only RM75.95 million of the RM246.73 million flood reconstruction fund (31 percent) was used as of Jan 8 this year.
"In the audit's opinion, the government's objective to help flood victims return to normalcy as soon as possible could not be achieved," it said.
Furthermore, the audit found 15 RKB applicants who did not qualify received the new homes, but 25 households that did, were not given new homes.
"As a result, there are still victims living in tents or transit homes," it noted.
'No help for some flood victims'
The report said among the reasons those who qualified but did not get help, was due to the lack of government officers to verify the status of the flood victims.
The Rural and Regional Development Ministry and Works Ministry, in response to the audit, said the determination of who qualified was APBN's responsibility, but APBN in its response said it did not receive the applications.
The audit also found that some contractors tasked with the building of the RKB did not fulfil their obligations.
An example, it said some new homes which were supposed to be 800 square feet in size, were constructed at only 660 square feet.
There were also incidences where contractors later refused to carry out the construction as the price of the contracts were "too low".
The audit also found issues in the usage of allocations for repairing homes.
It noted that the allocations were used beyond the scope of repairs, including carrying out renovations, replacing roofs of homes that were not damaged by the floods, and even for new cabinets.
It said the out-of-scope "repairs" cost the government RM247,743.21 in total while repairs to roof unaffected by the floods cost RM47,177.84.
APBN in its response said the repairs were also based on the "needs" of homeowners.
The audit also criticised the agency of "maximising cost" to hit the cap of RM10,000 per home repair and lacked standard operating procedures to prioritise the repairs.
It urged APBN to reevaluate its process of selecting aid recipients to ensure it is done transparently and to urgently house flood victims in new homes that have been completed.
The report added that 557 people were still living in tents, transit homes and other alternatives.