ALOR SETAR: The Kedah government should have consulted the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) before deciding to invest in the logging project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) which turned out to be unprofitable, said Deputy Minister Datuk Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir.
He said it was not a requirement for state governments to refer to Miti before investing abroad, but this was recommended.
"Some of them do things on their own accord. The best practice is to keep us informed because we can advise whether the partners are the right ones or not, whether the business is real or not.
"We are not interfering, but would like to prevent this (loss) from happening. In this case, we knew nothing. We only found out after the audit report came out," he said after officiating at the Oblong Port at Menara Alor Setar, here, Thursday.
The Auditor-General's Report 2011 stated that Kedah Corporation Berhad (KCB), a subsidiary of Mentri Besar Incorporated, had bought a 70% stake in MAS Incorporated (PNG) Ltd for RM31.21mil to develop two areas covering 114,429 hectares in Papua New Guinea, but the project was terminated by the KCB board of directors on March 1 last year.
The investment caused KCB to incur losses amounting RM13.49mil. Mukhriz, who is also Kedah Umno Liaison Committee deputy chairman, said he could not accept the statement by Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak that it was a business where profits and losses were the norm.
"From the audit report, we found that not even one feasibility study was conducted. The board of directors was not given a chance to evaluate whether the business should continue or not. Clearly, there were irregularities. The Mentri Besar is on the board of directors, so he must assume responsibility," he said.
He said Azizan could not blame others, including the former KCB management and former Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
"You cannot have power and not want responsibility. Power comes with responsibility. It is the overall responsibility of the Mentri Besar whether or not he directly manages it or not," he added.
Mukhriz said the project in Papua New Guinea began in October 2008, which was after the opposition took over the state government, so Azizan cannot put the blame on the BN.
"The signing of the memorandum of understanding on the project received enormous media coverage and he witnessed it too. Now he claims he knew nothing of the company's activities," he added. - Bernama
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