Restructuring of Sabah Water Dept expected to save RM1b, says Anthony

Julia Chan
Sabah Industrial Development Minister Datuk Peter Anthony addresses a press conference in Kota Kinabalu August 27, 2018. — Bernama pic

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 27 — The Sabah Water Department, which was embroiled in controversy last year, is expecting to save some RM1 billion from reviewing “lopsided deals” made with contractors over the last few years.

State Industrial Development Minister Datuk Peter Anthony said that they would “restructure” the department after discovering six companies that have contracts to manage 58 water treatment plants and dams for over two decades.

“These contractors were paid about RM3.7 billion to oversee 58 water treatment plants and dams for a period of 20 years, but this money was not used for that purpose,” he said in a press conference here.

“They are paid a huge sum but the money is not used for the management, and they still claimed payment for works upwards of RM5,000,” said Anthony, adding that there was a lot of wastage.

“We will re-look at these concessionaires and restructure where possible. If the restructuring works out as planned, we may be able to save some RM1 billion.”

He said that the new restructuring would see changes between six months and a year.

However, he said they would need to study thoroughly the terms of the contracts as they were issued by the past Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

“The contracts were approved by the previous chief ministers and also the previous infrastructure development minister. The agreements were not beneficial to the state government and we don’t know how they got this way,” he said, adding that they have made a report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

In the department’s October 2016 scandal, the MACC arrested the two most senior Sabah Water Department officials and seized an unprecedented amount of cash and assets from the duo’s homes.

Investigations were ongoing for alleged abuse of power linked to contracts for RM3.3 billion federal-funded projects channelled to the department since 2010.

The case is still pending in court but all accused are out on bail.

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