Saturday, October 20, 2001

Review of water and car rental deals: Musa

Kota Kinabalu: State Finance Minister Datuk Musa Aman said everything possible was being done to prevent a repeat of past mistakes in Sabah's financial administration, including failure to comply with government policies and regulations, Star reports.

"We are working towards more transparency and accountability while cutting down on wastage and unnecessary spending," he said.

Musa, who replaced former Chief Minister Datuk Osu Sukam in the finance portfolio, said that among the measures introduced since his appointment to the post last March was the review of several major state privatisation deals.

These include the water production concession agreements for Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu.

"Also being reviewed is the controversial car rental agreements between the state and several private firms.

"The state will also only implement infrastructure projects with strategic value," he said.

He said the state was trying to control the size of the civil service by freezing the hiring of new staff while abolishing existing vacant posts.

"Other cost-cutting measures include a drastic cutback in overseas travel for state officials and reducing the number of political secretaries," he added.

Musa said that as a result of these measures, a draft of the Auditor-General's report for the year 2000 stated that there was an increase in efforts to ensure that finance regulations were being complied with.

In his 1999 report made available to MPs on Wednesday, Auditor-General Datuk Dr Hadenan Abdul Jalil said the financial management of the Sabah Finance Ministry had to be improved.

He singled out several weaknesses including in the control of expenditure, revenue management, loan accounts and the control and maintenance of financial records.

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