Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that a country must first improve its governance, abolish corruption and develop integrity in all of its sector for one to become a country with high-income status.
According to him, the responsibility to audit expenditures incurred by ministries and agencies rests on the shoulders of the Auditor-General’s Department and as the people of the country keeps a close watch on the government’s integrity, the department must do well in carrying out its duty.
Mustapa despite the ambition of the country to become a developed nation, was transparent enough to acknowledge that the country is still facing the issues of fraud, corruption, poor governance, weak financial management, abuse of power, and many unethical practices.
In a speech during the Seventh Annual ECoFI Symposium (AES) 2021 held virtually, he said that lack of integrity among the institutions, public and private sector is detrimental to the growth of the nation’s economy.
He also mentioned that in these crucial times of fighting against economic and health challenges, subjects of good governance and integrity are vital, adding that the government must have zero tolerance for abuse of power and weak governance.
Mustapa said that the government’s expenditures on the stimulus packages must be closely observed such that the aim to support the people and the businesses are achieved especially amid the Covid-19 situation while ensuring that governance and integrity are being established.
According to Malaysia Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) president Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar, there are still several measures required to be taken in order to speed up the nation’s response to Covid-19 which includes building fair framework for data openness and access; address immediate risks in the emergency public procurement; mechanisms for effective implementation, compliance and review; safeguarding fairness in the enforcement of public integrity standards; and foster a culture of integrity in leadership.
He added that transparency is even more crucial during a crisis as lack in checks and balances can lead to abuse of public procurement as some rules and regulations have been loosened as well as lead to the use of the normal methods during an emergency procurement like price fixing and collusive bidding. The AES 2021 was organised by the Economic and Financial Policy Institute (ECoFI), School of Economics, Finance and Banking, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) with the theme, ‘Covid-19 Health Crisis: Strengthening Governance and Integrity for Swift Economic Recovery’.