C4 tells Putrajaya to fast-track creation of Ombudsman office

Topic: Ombudsman Bill, Public Procurement
Related news: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/10/30/c4-tells-putrajaya-to-fast-track-creation-of-ombudsman-office/
Coverage by: Free Malaysia Today

An anti-graft group wants the government to fast-track the creation of the independent Ombudsman office after it was revealed that more than RM620 million of public funds was lost or wasted in 2020.

Auditor-General (A-G) Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid, in tabling his audit report for 2020 in the Dewan Rakyat recently, had blamed this on non-compliance by federal ministries and departments with financial management.

The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) reiterated its call for the setting up of the Ombudsman to address maladministration, enhance integrity and governance in public complaints matters.

“Although Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had made an announcement that an Ombudsman bill would be tabled next year, C4 urges that this be fast-tracked,” the group said in a statement today.

C4 also urged the government to include the Misconduct in Public Office (Mipo) as a new provision under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 to outline deliberate behaviour that causes leakage and loss of government funds as a criminal offence.

The A-G had said there was RM510.49 million in irregular payments, of which RM499.19 million involved payments for maintenance service claims which had not been verified at the National Security Council (MKN) level.

Meanwhile, of the RM104.79 million loss in public funds, RM81.69 million involved unclaimed penalties not imposed by the immigration department, and RM4.79 million involved equipment that was received late but not installed at Istana Budaya.

C4 also called on the government to strengthen the A-G’s powers to check government contracts without the consent of the finance minister, under the Audit Act 1957, so that auditors can investigate or confront suspicious transactions.

Besides that, it also urged the government to publish decisions on the award of contracts, along with the justification for selection or rejection, improve in-progress monitoring, and to mandate assets declarations by public procurement officials.

“Such a substantial amount of money, of over RM620 million, lost through such ignominious means could have been used to alleviate the peoples’ financial burden and reduce ballooning government debts.

“Any intention to deny our people of their rights should be regarded as an offence under the law and those found to be abusing their positions in public office should be hauled up before the law and punished for their abhorrent crimes,” C4 said.

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