This is a most serious development because the stock market could not have discounted the RM3 billion economic stimulus package as the first news of such a massive injection was over the extended weekend holidays, highlighting the gravity of the credibility gap and confidence problem afflicting the government.
It is an utter contempt of Parliament that the RM3 billion fiscal stimulus was not made inside Parliament to MPs when Parliament is currently in session, but in the Parliament building - an indication of the lowly regard the Prime Minister has for the institution of Parliament when he is not even prepared to pay "lip service" respect by presenting a mini-budget to Parliament which is a mere "rubber-stamp" of the Executive.
Malaysians are entitled to know whether the RM3 billion stimulus package was ever presented to the Cabinet and was it approved at the Cabinet meeting last Wednesday - and if so, why it was not presented to Parliament as a mini-budget the very next day?
As the government has decided on a RM3 billion stimulus package to take "pre-emptive measures" to sustain the Malaysian economic growth, this should be presented to Parliament as a mini-budget for debate and approval and not as a supplementary estimates bill after the monies have been spent.
Or was the Cabinet kept "in the dark" about the RM3 billion stimulus package and the government has started spending the RM3 billion stimulus package even before its announcement yesterday?
Furthermore, why wasn't the RM3 billion economic stimulus package announced by the Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin as should be the case?
As an initial reaction to the RM3 billion economic stimulus package, the greatest concern is that of accountability, transparency and integrity after the recent spate of mega-bailouts of crony companies using public funds or government-linked funds and agencies like the RM1.8 billion bailout of Tajudin Ramli over his MAS stake and the RM1.88 billion Time dotCom IPO bailout using funds from Employees Provident Fund, Pensions Trust Fund, Danaharta and others.
With the increase of the fiscal stimulus by about RM3 billion in addition to the RM28.8 billion already approved under Budget 2001, Mahathir said new projects have been identified for immediate implementation.
Malaysians should be concerned that on the ground of ensuring that the fiscal stimulus has an immediate impact on the economy, new ceilings have been fixed for approval of tenders by Ministries, statutory authorities and government companies bypassing existing rules and regulations without commensurate safeguards to ensure accountability, transparency and integrity.
Ministry's Tender Committees can approve tenders of up to RM30 million and up to RM50 million for selected statutory authorities and government companies.
For restricted tenders, ministries can approve contracts not exceeding
RM20 million and for procurement based on price quotation up to RM200,000,
while six selected ministries can approve the procurement of capital equipment
up to RM15 million.
What measures and safeguards are in place that there will not be abuses of the increased powers given to Ministries, statutory authorities and government companies to approve tenders running into tens of millions of ringgit without having to observe the existing rules and regulations.
Let Mahathir turn up in Parliament tomorrow to give a full and satisfactory explanation as to what safeguards are there to ensure that the RM3 billion economic stimulus would not end up as new avenues to channel development projects to crony or selected companies as a new form of bail-out.