Saturday, March 31, 2012

Noh Omar Puts the Cart before the Cows

The Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, Datuk Seri Noh Omar has announced on Tuesday 27 March that the Government is inviting bids to take over the National Feedlot Centre project from the scandal-tainted National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd (NFCorp).

The announcement to invite bids for the project is mind-boggling and outlandish at just so many levels.

Firstly, the Ministry of Agriculture has an existing “Implementation Agreement” for the National Feedlot Project signed with NFCorp on 8th March 2010.  With the call for new bids, does it mean that the Ministry of Agriculture has already terminated the Agreement with NFCorp?  And if it hasn’t been terminated, would not the Government then be in breach of the Agreement which defines NFCorp as the implementor?

Secondly, as highlighted in the National Audit Report 2010, the Ministry of Finance has specifically issued an order to halt the entire National Feedlot project in May 2009 and requested for a cost-benefit analysis to be carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture to justify the project’s viability.  This has of course raised the earlier question as to why an “Implementation Agreement” was signed in 2010 when a halt to the project was directed in 2009.

Regardless, now that Datuk Seri Noh Omar has announced the request for new bids, does it mean that a cost-benefit study has been indeed carried out and the project’s viability has been approved by the Ministry of Finance?  Based on our inquiry with both Ministries’ officials at the Public Accounts Committee as late as last week, there has been absolutely no study over its viability carried out to date.

Thirdly, both the Finance and Agriculture Ministries must surely recall the RM250 million soft loan granted to NFCorp for the implementation of the National Feedlot project since Datuk Seri Noh Omar has confirmed that there will be new parties being appointed to develop project.  It is completely untenable and against all common sense that the NFCorp Directors continue to enjoy the benefits of the RM250 million soft loan when they are no longer the project implementer.

As it stands, the 2% interest loan was fully drawn down even before the Implementation Agreement was signed has been abused by the NFCorp directors to acquire luxury properties in Malaysia, Singapore and even Kazakhstan and invest in unrelated businesses under their own names.

In public interest, and to ensure that every sen of tax-payers’ monies are recoverable, both Ministries must immediately demand the return of RM250 million loan given to NFCorp, whose directors are the family of UMNO Wanita Chief, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil.

Should both Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is the Finance Minister and Datuk Seri Noh Omar fail to take immediate and all necessary steps to such effect, all other pronouncements about making good the National Feedlot project will just be a public relations damage-control exercise and political rhetoric.  In fact their reluctance and failure to come down hard on parties who outrageously abuse public funds proves their bias and support for embattled Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil, at the expense of tax-payers.
Post a Comment