It raises the question as to whether the Government knows what it is doing and whether it is just being penny wise and pound foolish. Officials appear to be concentrating on minor cost cuts eating into essential expenditure, instead of the big ticket items which are often wasteful, and are the real culprits to wasteful expenditure.
The opinion by former chief news editor of NTV7 and 8TV with regards to the cuts in our local boarding schools highlights the ridiculousness of the situation. Excerpts of his article are as follows.
Of schools, hostels and tight budget
...After the few early callers, a lady who was put on air. But instead of commenting on the topic she went on to say that her children who were studying in a boarding school have been told to go home every weekend. Reason being, the school (which she did not name) could no longer provide meals for the students during weekends.
Apparently, the days of giving hostel students meals seven days a week are gone. Why? Well the lady claimed she was told that the school’s annual budget had been slashed. Meaning the school is running on less money.
I asked him if it was true that students are now required to go home on weekends.
“Yes,” he said. Initially, all students were instructed to leave for home on weekends, he added, but the ministry then decided the go-home move could not be made mandatory. So students are “advised’ to go home on weekends. Most students do so, he said. Wonder why?
“Why this ‘nasihat’?” I asked. Why has it come to this?
“No money” was his reply. Well, not exactly “no money” but, rather, limited funds. Put simply schools are operating on tight budget.
Then, there’s the 2008 Auditor General’s report highlighted by The Malay Mail recently. The AG report said the Education Ministry paid RM250 for each of six peacock flowers for a school. The market price for the plant is RM30.
The report went on to reveal the ministry had spent RM57,493 for the supply, sowing, gardening and maintenance of flowers and trees for the same school – 880 per cent higher than the most expensive quote available from local nurseries.
And it was reported also that the ministry had replaced doors in two schools at prices 56 per cent to 64 per cent higher than figures quoted by the Works Ministry.
Then there was the RM480 paid for a door when the Works Ministry quoted RM272.70.
There are more examples, of course. But enough said, lest our hearts ache further.
But I ask – why the big spending? How come there’s money to spend?