Malaysia’s graft busters probe expenditures of past two govts, raid eight agencies

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The Anwar Ibrahim administration’s probe into alleged misappropriation when Perikatan Nasional (PN) chief Muhyiddin Yassin was premier will encompass all government expenditure across his 18-month tenure, and not just Covid-19 stimulus packages.

Anti-graft officials said that contrary to reports last week, neither Tan Sri Muhyiddin, then Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, nor then Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has been hauled up due to the sheer volume of documents being examined.

“We are still going through Finance Ministry documents on expenditure for 2020 and 2021. We will call up relevant parties only after this,” said a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) source.

“The focus will still be on Covid-19 but we are also thoroughly checking whether there are any irregularities in other areas, so that we can identify everyone who can help us with our investigation and call them all at once,” the source added.

Eight government agencies and nine companies were raided late on Thursday, as part of the investigation into the alleged misappropriation of RM92.5 billion by the previous PN administration, the source said.

“We moved in after our checks found that these agencies had received a huge allocation from the stimulus packages approved by the government in 2020 and 2021. Following that, we raided nine companies and seized some documents,” the source added.

The focus remains on the RM92.5 billion spent as stimulus during the pandemic as these initiatives were fast-tracked due the pressing needs during nationwide lockdowns.

However, after more than a week since the probe was announced by Prime Minister Anwar on Dec 5, even the head of Laksana, the Finance Ministry unit in charge of implementing the stimulus package, has yet to be quizzed by the ministry or MACC.

The scope of investigations represents an expanded scrutiny of the past two governments. On Dec 6, Datuk Seri Anwar also halted RM7 billion in flood mitigation projects dished out earlier this year under Datuk Seri Ismail, while the ongoing roll-out of super-fast 5G infrastructure is also being reviewed.

Across this period, Datuk Seri Zafrul, who is the current government’s international trade and industry minister, was head of the Treasury.

Muhyiddin, Zafrul and Khairy have said they will cooperate with the anti-graft body if summoned for an investigation.

Based on the report made available on the Finance Ministry’s website, the government’s total expenditure for 2021 was budgeted at RM322.5 billion.

However, during the year, a series of four assistance and economic stimulus packages totaling RM225 billion were announced with a fiscal injection of RM25 billion.

The stimulus and containment measures put pressure on revenue, which was forecast to be lower than budget estimates. Hence, the government’s total expenditure for 2021 was revised downwards to RM320.6 billion.

In general, the packages were in the form of cash assistance for the public and businesses, particularly those affected by the extended movement curbs due to the pandemic.

The report said the additional measures necessitated an expenditure recalibration, particularly for operating expenditure, which has to be fully funded by revenue.

Meanwhile, based on the ministry’s Fiscal Outlook 2021 report, the total expenditure allocation by the government was revised upwards to RM314.7 billion from the initial budget estimate of RM297 billion, as the prolonged pandemic led the government to implement an extensive expansionary fiscal stance.

 

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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