Friday, 4 November 2011

MARA starts probe in purchases at inflated prices

PUTRAJAYA: Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) has set up a committee to investigate the purchase of items for training courses at double their prices, as highlighted in the Auditor-General's Report 2010.

Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Hasan Malek said the internal inquiry was important to ascertain the irregularities reported and to also take action against those found guilty.

"There are several processes and it will take some time, but we are hoping that the investigation can be completed next month so that proper action can be taken," he said after opening the MARA Professional College convocation ceremony yesterday.

Asked on the action that would be taken against those found guilty, he said it would depend on the mistakes committed.

"For example, if an officer has been found guilty in mishandling and misusing the fund allocation, he or she can be terminated from work.

"The ministry has also discussed this issue and we have requested for a thorough and detailed report from Mara on the investigation, the related purchases, how it happened and who is responsible."

The auditor-general's report said that instead of fully utilising a RM54 million allocation to provide training courses for the hardcore poor, money was spent on related items.

Some of the purchases highlighted were an oven costing RM419 bought for RM1,200 for baking and pastry-making courses in Kelantan; folding beds costing RM100 bought for RM500; two-burner gas cookers costing RM59.90 bought for RM200 each; hair clippers costing RM79 supplied at RM250 each, and a blender costing RM60 bought for RM140.

The report also said that most of the purchases were done through direct negotiations, not open tender, and without the Finance Ministry's approval.

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