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|Photos: China Press
OVERPRICED toilet signs and new scanning machines that were never used.
These were some of the examples of wastage that Malaysia's Auditor-General revealed in his report for last year, reported China Press.
The report showed that while government agencies had better financial management than in 2008, there was still wastage in some areas.
For example, the Royal Malaysian Customs spent RM1.5million (S$629,000) on new body scanners.
But the scanners ended up in cold storage as officers did not bother to learn to use the machines and, instead, spent another RM440,000 on repairing the old scanners.
In his report, Auditor-General Ambrin Buang rebuked the customs department for splurging on the machines without the permission of the Ministry of Finance.
The department was also accused of wasting public funds by splurging on patrol boats that were not used.
Mr Ambrin noted that after periods of non-usage, the boats became damaged. Yet, expenses for repairs were logged in the customs department's books even though repairs were never carried out.
Mr Ambrin pointed out another instance of overspending: the RM80,594 spent by the Bentong city council in Pahang on materials in renovating a hotel was far higher than market rates.
For example, the city council paid RM871 for each toilet sign that would normally cost just RM65. This meant that the signs were 13 times more expensive.
The city council also spent RM3,530 on an Abitex armchair that could be bought forRM990.
As the council bought 14 armchairs, it had overspent by RM35,560.
The council also bought two three-seater sofas that cost RM5,379. The same sofas were retailing for less than half the price.
Prayer items that could have been bought for just RM60were bought by the city council forRM542.
Signs bearing room numbers were bought for RM542,but were sold on the market for justRM38.
And a chandelier priced at RM9,200 was bought by the council for RM38,700.
The inflated prices were uncovered after the Audit Office checked with merchants.
The Auditor-General also noted that Perbadanan TabungPendidikan Tinggi Nasional(PTPTN) or National Higher Education Fund Corporation disbursed almost RM23.8 million to more than 16,000 people who never applied for the funds.
PTPTN funds cover tertiary students' tuition fees and living expenses.
The Home Ministry was also not spared from criticism as the People's Volunteer Corps or Rela overspent on uniforms for its members.
The ministry signed a contract for the supply of 2.7 million metres of cloth worth RM27.54 million from December2006 toNovember2009.
Mr Ambrin said: "They spent RM7.01 million for sewing 240,000 sets of uniforms for the period of April 2007 till March2010."
He added that the 2.7 million metres of cloth could produce 600,000 sets of uniforms, but since only 240,000 uniforms were required, Rela has an excess of RM16.52million worth of unused cloth.
This article was first published in The New Paper.