Tuesday, April 13, 2010

MyProcurement: RM27m Shoe Purchase?

The Prime Minister needs to start getting serious about his promise of transparency before his MyProcurement portal the butt of jokes by the men on the street

Over the past week I've already highlighted via the media the various serious short-comings of the MyProcurement portal, launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak about 2 weeks ago. The short-comings include data which are inaccurate, incomplete and has very little details – such as no details of tender specifications, dates of tender and award, quantities, number of competitive bids and other relevant details.

What caught the public's attention was at least 2 projects whose contract sum were keyed in wrongly, resulting in wildly inflated figures. The first was a RM6.5 million project which was wrongly quoted as RM6.5 billion for the Ministry of Defence to purchase food rations, while the other was a RM7.8 million project which was wrongly quoted as RM77.8 million for a project to build a hostel for 200 students in Terengganu.

One would have thought that by now, the Government would have learnt its lesson and comb through the entire site for other errorneous data, and ensure that all new data entered would be properly checked for irregularities.

However, just last Thursday 8 Apr, the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs had uploaded its first and only contract to the portal. While it's questionable why the Ministry has only awarded 1 contract since June 2009, what was shocking was that the contract issued was to Business Information Technology Sdn Bhd for a sum of RM3.6 billion for a project to “menaiktaraf perkhidmatan keselamatan ict kementerian perdagangan dalam negeri, koperasi dan kepenggunaan”.

If this is really another “decimal point error” as we suspect, then it only shows that the Government is really not serious about this whole “MyProcurement portal” thing, and it is really set up for show, rather than to ensure transparency, and eliminate rent-seeking and patronage. At the rate which we are going, how many more “billion” ringgit projects are going to be “exposed” in the portal?

The Minister of Defense must explain incredible shoe purchase

The most special discovery on the MyProcurement portal that takes the cake must however, be this peculiar contract. The Ministry of Defence awarded a contract amounting to RM27.5 million to Syarikat Visi Footwear Sdn Bhd to “membekal dan menghantar kasut kulit wanita untuk kakitangan awam Kementerian Pertahanan”.

We know that the First Lady aims to make Malaysia the “Shoe Capital of the East”, but surely, a RM27.5 million purchase of ladies' footwear for civilian staff is not the way to achieve the goal?

We'd like to call upon the Minister of Defence to explain this incredible shopping spree for ladies' shoes for his ministry.

Thank contributions by the public scrutinising the MyProcurement portal

I'd like to also take this opportunity to thank all “little birds” who have shared the load of perusing and analysing the MyProcurement portal who have peppered me with plenty of leads since last week. I've received all sorts of information via emails, Facebook and even Twitter.

I call upon all civic minded Malaysians to continue perusing and analysing the data within the MyProcurement portal as (and if) it gets updated to ensure that there is increased transparency in Government procurement, and ultimately, to reduce and eliminate rent-seeking, patronage and the associated corruption deeply entrenched within the system.

Keep my colleagues and myself updated on all the suspicious deals whether via email, Facebook, Twitter or other conventional means, and we'll do our part to ensure that we get to the bottom of things.

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