PAC slams Education Ministry over RM4b blunder (Updated)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has chided the Education Ministry for “weaknesses in contract management” involving the RM4 billion 1BestariNet project to provide high-speed internet access for schools.

“PAC cannot accept the reasons submitted by the Education Ministry, that it was unaware of a circular on value management,” it said in a report tabled in the Dewan Rakyat today.

“An Economic Planning Unit circular in 2009 had stated it was mandatory for projects worth RM50 million and above to go through a “value management process.

“The 1BestariNet project was not subjected to the process.

“PAC has decided that the Auditor-General’s Department (AGD) do a thorough follow-up audit related to the matters raised and to carry out rectification as there are a lot of doubtful expenditures,” it said.

“The PAC also wants the AGD to conduct a study on the effectiveness in implementing the 1BestariNet project.”

The committee added that further scrutiny should be given in order to “protect government interests”.

PAC, which is led by Datuk Hasan Arifin (Umno-Rompin), will also be visiting all schools involved in the project in both cities and rural areas.

The 1BestariNet project, initiated in 2011, is expected to take 15 years to complete at a cost of RM4.07 billion involving 10,000 schools.

The project aims to provide high-speed 4G internet access at schools.

Last year, the Auditor General’s Report found that the software and equipment were used by just 1% of students in the participating schools.