Does Sarawak have no better contractors? Former state minister asks after premier dangles advanced payment as bait
KUCHING, Feb 9 — Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh wants to know if the Sarawak government cannot find sufficient qualified contractors to take on public jobs that it would consider those with dubious track records.
He was responding to state Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg’s announcement yesterday that his government would give advance payment for work contracts to help companies as one of the new initiatives to safeguard the interest of the construction industry.
“Are there no capable contractors in the state so much so that we have to rely on these inferior contractors?” Wong, a former state finance minister, asked in a statement today.
The Bawang Assan assemblyman cautioned the state government against giving advance payment to contractors, including those categorised as RM2 companies, to help strengthen their financial position.
He said doing so jeopardise the state’s development and economic plans should such contractors fail to deliver the projects on time, as had happened in the past.
He also asked the government to explain how contractors without basic financial requirements for any project were able to win those contracts in the first place. He urged the authorities to consider a large-scale reform for the construction industry instead of offering temporary solutions.
“It is definitely agreeable that as it is right now, we must take measures to revive and save these government projects from further failure and to complete them for the benefit of the people.
“However, we must also take those responsible for the failure to task and to make those who have put us in this position be accountable and answerable,” he said.
Wong said every ringgit and sen must be made accountable.
“Introducing payments without contract documents, lower liquidated and ascertained damages and mutual termination among other initiatives just further encourage those unproven RM2 companies to come in and take advantage of the situation, thus alienating those who are more capable and in a far better position to deliver projects successfully,” he added.
At the opening of a seminar on enhancing Sarawak’s construction industry yesterday, Abang Johari had said that the state government would give advance payment for work contracts to help companies under a new initiative to safeguard the interest of the construction industry.
He had said advance payment was to help them, including those categorised as RM2 companies, to strengthen their financial positions.
He had said the state government would allow up to three payments to be made without the contract documents in the first four months of the contract period.
He had said the state government would also impose a lower rate of liquidated and ascertained damages and lower minimum payments as well as other measures to alleviate projects affected by the price hikes of building materials.