Political Public Fund Managers

Update 1: The advertisement below lists the criteria for the RM180 million fund

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There has to be a better way to manage our limited resources and public funds, right?

(How true! Sometime we forget that the money we get is actually from our own pockets and to make things worse, some of it ends up in the politicians’ pockets as well. Image source: http://www.sodahead.com)

First read this:-

MIC President Datuk Seri G. Palanivel has been given the task of managing a RM180mil special government allocation meant to help Indian entrepreneurs. The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the decision for him to take charge of small and medium enterprise (SME) projects for Indians was made by the Cabinet last week.

“The RM180mil fund is intended to assist all segments of Indian entrepreneurs, including micro-enterprises,” Palanivel told a press conference yesterday after handing out cheques to recipients of Community Builders Foundation (CBF) pre-schoolers aid. He said his responsibility would be to monitor the loan applications as well as engage with the public.

“This is to ensure that genuine and deserving Indian entrepreneurs have access to finance to grow their business,” he said, adding that those interested to apply should contact SME Corporation Malaysia.

(Source)

In 2010, as part of reforms to be implemented by the Najib’s Administration, the Government introduced the Transformation Programme to address 7 key areas concerning the people of the country. They should have added one more – Elimination of Unwanted Political Hands on Tax-Payers Money.

I know it is not the first time we are reading these kind of nonsense in the papers but one need to ask why in the world, the Government want to trust millions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money to a political party to “manage it” when we already have a more effective of doing it by using the various departments of the Government? How can one be held accountable for the money managed? Yes, one may ask what’s new in Malaysia – the abuse of tax-payers funds have been going on for many, many years now. True I say but then again, for how long we want to allow this to go on where public funds somehow ends up as political party’s personal fund.

Same case here with the RM180 million fund – no doubt the final handling of the fund may be done via SME Corp (or some agencies or NGOs who has the proper resources, logistics and professional fund managers) but why the need for middle man for the so-call management of the funds? If it is an act of public relationship (in view of the general elections – i.e. to show that MIC is relevant and takes care of the community), how certain we are that:-

  1. All of the funds allocated by the Government will end up in real entrepreneurs’ pockets and not siphoned off under the disguise of administration charges and commission or phony entrepreneurs or worse – as personal funds for the up-coming elections and shopping? Remember that all these money comes from the tax-payers fund and must be held accountable for every cents used; AND
  2. Whether all the funds will be disbursed regardless of the political stand of those who need the funds? We have heard cases in the past where opposition supporters have been denied to certain benefits even though they are entitled to. With MIC behind the manager’s seat, will they be professional enough to ensure dirty politics and political affiliations biasness stays out from the management of the funds?

This is because allegations of abuse of public funds by politicians or the manner in which the said money was disbursed have surfaced before:-

PKR today claimed that public money meant to fund activities of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has been channelled to pay for the activities of Wanita Umno . PKR Wanita chief Zuraidah Kamaruddin today said the funds were channelled to the Council of Women and Family Development under the ministry.

The council was established in 2001 during the tenure of Shahrizat Abdul Jalil as its minister. Shahrizat is also the Wanita Umno chief. According to Zuraidah, the council was initially made up of women state executive council (exco) members nationally. But she claimed that over time the membership of the council has been hijacked by Wanita Umno.

(Source)

And;

The government has promised millions of ringgit to upgrade Tamil schools in the country but one question still remains. Would the millions really be spent on the reconstruction of these schools or would it go to crony contractors; or be channeled back to the government? The lack of transparency in releasing the funds had raised heckles from non-governmental organisations, who wanted a system to streamline funds to ensure it reached the “target” group fast.

He said going by these estimates, in actual fact the government would only complete work amounting to RM33 million out of the RM100 million set aside under the 2012 Budget. “This is because the relevant authorities especially JKR has quoted three-fold prices. While work will be done for RM35 million, the remainder of the allocation will either go back to the government or into the pockets of contractors or cronies given the contracts,” he added.

(Source)

And whilst the “how” and “who” is being worked out, there is another question need to be considered – how and when MIC (or any other political party) will be involved in the management of the funds? Are they going to be the decision makers on who will get what? Are they going to be just managers on paper (for publicity sake) but the real work will be done by professional fund managers?

I am not accusing anything here but we want to know how MIC as the “managers of the fund” is going to ensure that the tax-payers money will be used for the right reasons and for the right persons. This is because whilst the objective and the creation of the RM180 million special fund is welcomed but the manner it will be disbursed and monitored may leave rooms for abuse and for that, we need to ask if we have the best practices in place to manage and deal with public funds? Have we addressed the shortcomings, plugged the leakages and improve on the end delivery in accordance to the objectives that it was intended to? And we should start by not allowing any politicians from one side of the political divide managing these public funds.

And whilst we have been talking about the management of existing funds, Rafizi Ramli from PKR raised another interesting point – where does the Government gets all the money for these ad-hoc funds? Certainly some of these ad-hoc funds has not been budgeted for in the last Budget presentation in the Parliament so where does these allocations are coming from?-

PKR’s Rafizi Ramli today slammed the prime minister for his heavy “vote-buying” spending of RM5.77 billion, saying that the money comes from taxpayers. Rafizi said the loss of yearly revenue from Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) proposed car tax cuts would be eclipsed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s unplanned spending.

“(T)he total sweets simply used by the prime minister in just the first six months (of this year) to buy the people’s votes is RM5.77 billion,” said Rafizi at a press conference today. He based his calculations by adding up the RM2.2 billion civil service bonus recently announced and various “one-off” spending by Najib’s administration which he claimed had reached RM3.57 billion. Under the RM3.57 billion “unplanned spending”, he gave examples of the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M), Bantuan Kembali Ke Sekolah 1 Malaysia and Bantuan Buku 1 Malaysia. He said these schemes respectively cost the government RM2.6 billion, RM530 million and RM260 million.

He also referred to “various schemes to buy votes under the 1 Malaysia brand, and various announcements of “instant noodle projects” throughout the Jelajah Janji Ditepati (Promises Fulfilled Tour) estimated to reach RM180 million.”

(Source)

Considering the amount of money being spent on ad-hoc funds and being passed into the hands of politicians to manage the said fund, we are left to wonder when this nonsense will stop especially when same group of people who have doing this nonsense are bent on bringing in 2 pandas and pay millions for their up-keeping (for more interesting insight, read this as well – “15 Silliest Uses of Taxpayers Money“). We need more control and we need it to be done on an urgent basis before we end up bankrupting the country with unnecessary expenses and leakages of public funds.

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