Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Food funds for poor kids improperly used

Aidila Razak

AUDIT REPORT Funds meant to feed poor children have either been misappropriated to pay for unrelated things, or was used to pay for substandard food due to poor monitoring, the Auditor-General's Report 2013 says.

At district health offices in Kota Kinabalu, Gua Musang and Jerantut, the funds were inappropriately used to pay for gifts for speakers or hampers for competitions.

In Kuala Lumpur, the report ticks off the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Council (MAIWP) for providing poor quality food to underprivileged children under its care.



According to the report, the Gua Musang health office used RM13,635.40 out of RM90,000 allocated for the food aid programme to pay for family days, gifts for speakers and T-shirts for choir participants.

In Kota Kinabalu, the health office used RM6,480 of funds meant to provide nutritrious meals to underprivileged children to buy “models of food for biscuits, fried rice, nasi lemak and others”.

In Jerantut, 68 percent or RM31,569 of the allocation was used to buy “office curtains, refreshments for the Creative Innovation Group participants, hampers for running and cooking contests, food pyramids, etc”.

The audit also found that the food supplied to the children did not meet specifications, resulting in nutritrion targets not being met among some participants.

In response to the findings, the Health Ministry said the programmes for which the funds were used were related to its nutrition programmes.

However, an internal investigation committee was formed on Jan 27 to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, The Starquoted Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam (right) as saying the ministry would issue a statement on the matter soon.

Sour fruits for poor students

Contractor Kembara Cekal Enterprise was found to have supplied poor quality fresh food to feed underprivileged students at four residential schools run by MAIWP.

The audit report said Kembara Cekal did not abide by the agreement, which requires it to supply “fish which are fresh, that do not have ruptured stomachs, collapsed flesh or smell bad (and) fresh and clean fruits and vegetables from the market”.

The report states: “The audit on Kompleks Darul Kifayah found that the uncooked items supplied did not meet specifications.

“For example, the fruits were found to be wilting and sour, but were still served to the students. The visit to Sekolah Menengah Integrasi Sains Tahfiz also found that the supply agreement was not adhered to.”



As a result, about half of students surveyed said that the food was “mediocre to poor”, adding also that they found the canteens to be dirty.

The audit found that the contractor, which was awarded the RM6.5 million contract, was not fined despite the agreement providing for it.

In response, MAIWP said it would conduct spot checks on the schools to ensure that food supplied is clean and nutritrious.

“MAIWP will also review the quality of the food supplied and if it does not meet specifications, a penalty will be meted out or the contract terminated,” it said.
~ Malaysiakini

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