Thursday, December 5, 2013

Najib's transformation programmes questioned

Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has questioned the effectiveness of the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's transformation programmes on education in the state.

"Education is one of the seven areas being focused under the National Key Results Areas (NKRA) under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP).

NONE"As far as Sarawak is concerned, we see schools that have not been repaired or renovated, even though the state has sought more allocations," Sarawak PKR vice-chairperson See Chee How (left) said.

"According to answers given to me during the last sitting of the Sarawak state assembly, the state government submitted more than 300 applications for school repairs, renovations and improvements to school buildings under the 2011 to 2013 rolling plans. 

"However, only five applications were approved," See, who is Batu Lintang assemblyperson, told a media conference yesterday.

"Why are our applications rejected and our schools neglected?" he asked, pointing out that Sarawak is already far left behind in the field of education.

Commenting on the third series of the report presented by the National Audit Department, See also expressed concern with the so-called ‘sick' school projects in Sarawak.

"Out of 16 school projects in Sarawak, 15 were not completed on time, and until today 10 are yet to be completed even though the constructions started in 2008.

"If you look into the money that goes into the building of these schools, only one school is worth RM10 million, and the rest are up to RM30 million.

"Except for SK Sungai Tapang, which was constructed at a cost of RM10 million, the other five projects (one in Betong, two each in Limbang and Lawas) are yet to be completed, but there are already defects and cracks in these school buildings.

"Yet the full amount of money on those projects has been paid to the contractors," See said. "This is really a big disappointment, even though education is the focus of NKRA transformation programmes." 

"Talk should be followed by action," he added, questioning the effectiveness of the GTP initiatives.

Matter to be raised in Sarawak cabinet

Commenting on the same issue, Sarawak's Minister for Welfare, Women and Family Development Fatimah Abdullah said she would raise the issue with the state cabinet next week.

NONEFatimah (right), who has been entrusted with a watching brief on national schools in the state, said she was fully aware of the seriousness of the ‘sick' projects.

"Whatever decision to be made in the cabinet meeting will then be a state decision so that later, when we submit our decision to the federal level, it will be from the state government," she was quoted as saying in a news report.

See also called on the government to activate its Parliamentary Review Committee, which was set up in 2010, and for this committee to establish ministerial and departmental select committees to examine the expenditure, administration and policies of the federal ministries, their departments, associated agencies and public bodies.

"In this way, not only it enhances the independence of the legislative arm of the government, but it also ensures that and our Parliament and legislative assemblies can advance and progress and thereby perform a more dynamic and functional role in the governing of this country," he said.

Acknowledging the problems faced by the National Audit Department (NAD), which is mandated to promote good governance within government entities in the country, the PKR leader said its role was to track, monitor and report government spending on the programmes and activities carried out by the ministries, departments and agencies.

"Our public sector is enormous, compared with our neighbouring countries. We have a federal government, 13 state governments, 150 local governments and innumerable statutory bodies, agencies and government-linked companies," he said. 

Therefore, the NAD could only audit a limited number of ministries, departments, agencies and companies each year.

"So it is time the government in this country undergoes a structural transformation to meet the needs of good governance with better mechanism for checks and balances in the management of public finances, to improve public financial management and accountability, to prevent corruption and mismanagement of public funds."

~ Malaysiakini

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