All govt spending during Emergency will be audited once Parliament sits again, says Dewan Rakyat Speaker

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun addresses members of Parliament during the Third Session of the 14th Term of Parliament at Parliament December 15, 2020. — Bernama pic
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun addresses members of Parliament during the Third Session of the 14th Term of Parliament at Parliament December 15, 2020. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — Parliament might be suspended and a state of Emergency declared, but this does not mean that the practice of ‘checks and balances’ when it comes to government spending has been done away with completely, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker said.

Speaking to Utusan Malaysia, Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun insisted that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will be allowed to scrutinise and audit government spending throughout the Emergency once it is lifted in August.

“This (Emergency) ordinance states that parliamentary meetings, including committee hearings, cannot convene because they are suspended under the Emergency. I referred this matter to the legal counsel of Parliament.

“However, this does not mean that the checks and balances process won’t take place when Parliament is in session even though meetings and committees are now suspended. In fact, all expenses will be audited at a later time, that is, after the Emergency has ended.

“This matter (checks and balances) cannot be avoided; only that, for now, the Emergency Ordinance suspends all parliamentary meetings but they will be held in the future (once the Emergency has ended),” he was quoted as saying by the Malay daily.

Utusan Malaysia reported yesterday that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is “paralysed”, in that it has not been able to carry out its oversight of government spending.

To date, five ministry feedback reports have not been tabled in Parliament. Utusan Malaysia reported PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh as saying that currently, two feedback reports must be tabled, namely on the procurement and use of vaccines as well as the National Trust Fund (KWAN).

Last month, it was reported that the government had approved amendments to the National Trust Fund (KWAN) Act 1988 (Act 339), allowing funds from KWAN to be used for the procurement of vaccines and any expenditure incurred in relation to the vaccines.

This is based on the Emergency (National Trust Fund) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, which comes into force today, through the Federal Government Gazette published by the Attorney General’s Chambers on April 21.

The ordinance, amended in Section 6, was promulgated by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, on April 14 pursuant to Clause (2B) of Article 150 of the Federal Constitution.

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