Malaysia could save up to 10bn ringgit ($2.3bn) if it can plug leakages from the government procurement system, according to prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.
Anwar, who is also the country’s finance minister, said reducing corruption, political interference and the interests of big business could bring significant savings.
“We are experiencing high leakages. In less than two months at the Ministry of Finance, I have identified RM3bn to RM4bn ($700bn-$900bn) that can be saved,” he said at a speech at the 2023 Budget Dialogue Council.
Since taking the reins of government in December last year Anwar has had government procurement in his sights. He announced that the previous administration was being investigated for emergency tenders issued during the pandemic, SM reported.
“Several decisions [were made] to investigate the expenditure of 600bn ringgit ($137bn) without tenders,” he said.
“The finance ministry has been informed of several breaches, but we leave it to the investigative bodies to probe the extent of the alleged corruption and misappropriation.”
Anwar called for “more professional” procurement of military equipment, saying that another RM3bn-RM4bn could have been saved if the government had been more careful about its purchasing.
“Whether it’s related to security of the land, sea, or air, there is a responsibility to ensure the best equipment is proposed and negotiated for, without political interference or the interest of vendors,” he said.
In August 2022, the Public Accounts Committee investigated huge overruns in a project to deliver six combat ships for the navy.
The report questioned why not one of the ships had been delivered when the project timeline suggested five should have been completed.
Anwar said the wastage of resources could have been avoided, and criticised “nonsense” within public procurement.