PUTRAJAYA, Dec 6 — The Finance Ministry (MOF) has been ordered to pause channelling funds for the RM15 billion flood mitigation projects announced by the previous Ismail Sabri administration.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is also in charge of the finance ministry portfolio, told reporters today that he gave the suspension order to conduct a full review of contracts that had been awarded through direct negotiations, for possible procedural breaches.
“I have asked for the matter to be discontinued and subsequently reviewed so there is transparency.
“It is not a small sum and problems arise when rules are not followed and there exist opportunities to be taken advantage of,” he told a press conference here after clocking in to the Finance Ministry for the first time.
Anwar said MOF officials had briefed him that some RM7 billion out of the RM15 billion allocated had been approved and awarded without undergoing tender.
The federal government’s flood mitigation project 2030 had been announced by the previous finance minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz in October during the tabling of Budget 2023 as part of Malaysia’s a long-term strategy to deal with climate change.
Anwar said the possible breaches were regrettable, but expressed his gratitude to senior MOF officials for raising the matter to his attention.
“They can claim the allocations are ‘clean’, but they are most definitely not when we speak about approvals which goes against conventional rules,” he said, likely referring to his critics, though he did not name anyone.
Anwar also said he will be taking a very close look at all money flow in the government, including those sourced from gaming revenue, now that he is finance minister.
“We will scrutinise the alleged breaches or leakages. Don't be too hasty because now I am the finance minister. I have the files with me,” he said when asked to comment on PAS secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan’s demand for the PM to prove that Perikatan Nasional’s general election campaign had been funded with gambling money.
Takiyuddin had threatened legal action in a statement yesterday if Anwar could not furnish proof.
Anwar also confirmed that Budget 2023 will be tabled in Parliament for its second reading in January 2023, at the earliest.
A two-day Parliament sitting is scheduled for December 19 and 20 for the tabling of the emoluments budget, the swearing-in ceremony of Members of Parliament, the election of deputy Dewan Rakyat Speakers, as well as a vote of confidence on the prime minister.
Previously, Budget 2023 was tabled on October 7 by then finance minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz with a total allocation of RM372.3 billion, but Parliament was dissolved three days later to make way for the 15th general election held on November 19.