(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The latest Auditor-Generalís Report on the Federal Government 1999 shows an alarming 24 per cent increase in unpaid loan arrears from the State Governments, increasing from a total of RM712.23 million at the end of 1998 to RM882.76 million to the end of last year.
Three states are responsible for 76.51 per cent of the total unpaid loan arrears of RM882.76 million from the State Governments to the Federal Government, namely Kedah (RM286.74 million compared to RM225.54 million at end-1998), Johore (RM284.88 million compared to RM229.78 million at end-1998) and Sarawak (RM103.78 million compared to RM86.22 million at end- 1998).
Malaysians are entitled to know why these three state governments which
are all under the Barisan Nasional rule owe the Federal Government and
the taxpayers such gargantuan unpaid loan arrears.
Parliament should impose an immediate cap on the gargantuan unpaid loan arrears from Kedah, Johore and Sarawak to impose greater financial discipline and ensure greater competence and efficiency in the management of public accounts in these three states and require the three state governements to present quarterly reports as to how their loan arrears are being reduced.
It is most shocking and unsatisfactory that there had been a general increase in unpaid loan arrears by statutory bodies and government companies, with the total unpaid loan arrears from statutory bodies increasing from RM1.42 billion at the end of 1998 to RM1.86 billion at the end of 1999, while the total unpaid loan arrears from government companies increased from RM1.13 billion at the end of 1998 to RM1.297 billion at the end of 1999.
Three statutory bodies with the highest unpaid loan arrears to the Federal Government are Perbadanan Aset Keretapi (RM692 million compared to RM504.06 million at end-1998), Bank Pertanian Malaysia (RM374 million compared to RM325 million at end-1998) and Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia (RM320 million compared to RM160 million at end-1998).
Perwaja Terengganu Sdn. Bhd. tops the government companies with the biggest unpaid loan arrears, leaping from RM893.46 million at the end of 1998 to RM1.26 billion at the end of last year.
The Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, should be more forthcoming, frank and transparent in his budget presentation and give full and proper explanation as to the reasons for these gargantuan unpaid loan arrears to state governments, statutory bodies and government companies and why a RM1 billion cap had not been imposed for total unpaid loan arrears from state government, statutory bodies and government companies to the Federal Government for any one year.
The Parliamentary Accounts Committtee (PAC) should summon the Mentris Besar of Kedah and Johore and the Sarawak Chief Minister to explain reasons for their statesí galloping gargantuan unpaid loan arrears to Federal Government and what measures they are taking to pay up the loan arrears to set good financial examples for other states.
However, it is unthinkable that the PAC as presently constituted would ever dare to entertain the idea of summoning the Mentris Besar of Kedah and Johore and the Sarawak Chief Minister to appear before it although this would be fully within its powers and jurisdiction in its examination of the Auditor-Generalís 1999 Report.
Although the PAC Chairman, Datuk Jamaludin Jarjis is Chairman of the Barisan Backbenchersí Club, he is a political subordinate to the Mentris Besar of Kedah and Johore and Sarawak Chief Minister - and this is the powerful reason why the PAC Chairman should come from the Opposition ranks.
It is most regrettable that Jamaluddin is hanging on to the post of
PAC Chairman although he had recently been appointed Tenaga Chairman, posing
a clear conflict of interest as well as further undermining the credibility
and utility of the PAC. Jamaluddin should not tarry any longer as
PAC Chairman and should resign the post to allow a Barisan Alternative
MP take over the chairmanship of the PAC.