Kuala Lumpur, 27 Ogos 2020 – IDEAS applauds the MoF’s move to answer calls to disclose details of RM6.61 billion direct negotiation contracts, and the clarification made by former Pakatan Harapan ministers today. This is a rare day for procurement transparency in Malaysia, but more must be done: Malaysia needs a Government Procurement Act.
The disclosure by the current government and opposition underlines the need for comprehensive procurement legislation that will regulate and institutionalise disclosure practices of procurement activities including direct negotiation in the form of a Government Procurement Act. International procurement laws such as the UNCITRAL Model Law of Procurement and the EU Procurement Directives require all contracts to be disclosed promptly or within 30 days of contract signing.
“If the disclosure requirement is built into our procurement legislation, disclosures will no longer be framed as politically motivated. Instead, the disclosure will be a normal and integrated part of transparent and accountable procurement activities”, IDEAS CEO, Tricia Yeoh commented.
The legislation will also require procuring authorities to disclose more complete information on the contracts such as the date of award and justification. The list released by the MoF yesterday shows the information about the 101 projects including the procuring ministries, the cost of the projects, and the contractors/suppliers. Some of the projects are for security and uniformity purposes which are allowed to be procured through direct negotiation. But the justification to do direct negotiation for other projects such as for public events are not very clear. Information of date of award is also missing. Further, the opposition has stated that some of the projects were awarded before Pakatan Harapan took over office.
Commenting on this, Tricia says, “Partial disclosure is good but inadequate to promote accountability. Furthermore, as can be seen, today, incomplete disclosure results in speculation and accusations.”
To move forward, we call for the government to continue the drafting of the Government Procurement Act and consult stakeholders in the process.
We also reiterate a call to disclose directly negotiated contracts under the Perikatan Nasional government. Early in the administration period in the office, the public was made aware of directly negotiated contracts to procure equipment for tackling the COVID-19 outbreak. It is possible that some services, works and goods had to be procured quickly during the crisis, but justifications should be made public.
“The Minister of Finance said that last night’s disclosure was to uphold the principle of good governance and transparency. I think the disclosure of directly negotiated contracts under the current government, if any, would strengthen such commitments”, she adds.
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