(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Last week, the First Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin slammed Ministries and government departments for delay in the implementation of government projects, telling the Malaysian District Officers Conference 1999 that 16 ministries and departments experienced a shortage of between 50 and 100 per cent in the first quarter of this year.
Daim also made the following shocking discloures:
Daim berated the Ministries and departments concerned for their shortfall in development expenditures as it could "jeopardise national productivity, income flow and the achievement of national social goals".
This was followed by denunciations in the mass media that delays in the implementation of government projects was akin to "an act of sabotage".
But who are really responsible for such "an act of sabotage" which could "defeat" national development goals?
According to the Second Finance Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohanad, those responsible for such "an act of sabotage" in delaying the implementation of development projects were Cabinet Ministers and their secretaries-general whose "lack of attention" caused the delays!
However, two Ministers pointed their finger at the Finance Ministry for being the cause of the delays in the implementation of development projects. The Works Minister, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu saying that work on some of his ministryís approved projects could not start because the Treasury did not release the money. The Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister, Datuk Sabarrudin Chik said that his Ministry had yet to receive its allocation of RM150 million for tourism promotional activities this year. Sabbarudin said: "Itís already May and the Ministry has not received a single senÖso we cannot immediately spend the allocation."
Instead of letting the people know the truth as to who are really responsible for the "act of sabotage" in the delays in the implementation of development projects, whether other Ministries or his own Finance Ministry, Daim has called for a moratorium in the press, expressing the hope that Ministers would talk less, work more and check their facts before making statements.
Although Daim implied that Samy Vellu and Sabaruddin Chik were wrong
in claiming that the Treasury had not released the money to allow Ministries
and government departments to start work on development projects, his call
for an end of public debate after starting one himself is not conducive
to enhancing public confidence in good governance in Malaysia.
Daim should not try to stifle the publicís right to know whether it was the Finance Ministry which was responsible for the "act of sabotage" for the delay in the implementation of government projects or other Ministries.
If Daim had made a mistake in falsely or mistakenly accusing other Ministries and agencies for "an act of sabotage" in delaying implementation of development projects when it was the Treasury which was responsible for not promptly releasing funds, Daim should be fair to other Ministries and departments by putting the record straight and apologise for his error.
If Daim was right, and the other Ministries and departments had been guilty of such an "act of sabotage" in the delay in implementing development projects, then the people should be told the true facts and a full list of these defaulting Ministries and departments should be made public in accordance with high standards of public accountability and transparency as well as good governance Ė which will also enable the public to help monitor whether these defaulting Ministries and departments are able to perform with efficiency and competence.