KOTA KINABALU, July 15 — Millions of ringgit in grants meant for the betterment of the Malaysian Indian community were mismanaged by the special unit under the Prime Minister’s Department.

The Auditor-General report 2018 Series 1 said that the Socio-Economic Development of the Indian Community Unit (SEDIC) under the previous administration had been given up to RM203.89 million between 2014 and 2018 to run development programmes to uplift the poor Indian community.

However, the report said that there were no records or database to monitor the spending of the grants and it did not follow criteria in terms of selecting its non-governmental organisation recipients.

There also appears to be a weakness in administration and conflict of interest in the management of SEDIC involving its director-general, a minister and assistant minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

This is because there is no clear SOP as a guideline for the programme’s implementation,” said the report.

Among the discrepancies it found were that 49 unqualified NGOS were recipients of funds in 2017, amounting to RM18.91 million, 20 NGOs files for 23 programmes worth RM10.77 million in 2014 were not filed by SEDIC, five NGOs and one skill training institute did not return extra funds worth RM2.86 million, some NGOs did not spend the funds according to scope and many others.

The report also detailed funds being applied for by the then Health Minister, an assistant minister in the PMD and SEDIC itself which was described as one-off contributions for NGOS and Indian places of worship amounting to RM38 million between 2016 and March 2018.

In a random survey of participants of five programmes worth RM1.9 million, participants said they were not even aware of the programme.

“All of the participants of those particular programmes said they never attended such a programme. Some others could not even be verified because no participants list was provided,” said the report.

“SEDIC’s management and monitoring of the NGOs and its review and implementation of the programmes has also been lacking, and there is opportunity for fraud,” said the report.

SEDIC, was formed in 2014 and was tasked to give out grants and assistance to Indian NGOs to manage programmes in aid of the community.

It has since been revamped as the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (MITRA) under the new government, still under the Prime Minister’s Department.