Heritage body queried over lack of open tenders

GEORGE TOWN: Two Barisan Nasional leaders voiced their concern over findings about George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) which were highlighted in the second series of the Auditor-General’s Report 2016.

Penang Barisan Nasional Wanita chief Datuk Ng Siew Lai questioned the rationale of GTWHI appointing contractors without open tenders.

“This was against Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s stress on the importance of open tenders to avoid corruption,” she said.

She said in a statement that the Auditor-General reported that GTWHI also appointed contractors without the approval of its board of directors and distributed 16 projects amounting to RM3.03mil.

She lamented the four issues on GTWHI highlighted in the AG’s report, namely appointing contractors without the approval of the board of directors, no penalty imposed on late delivery of projects, not following conditions in contracts in organising the George Town Festival and having no stan-dard operating procedures (SOPs) for conducting programmes or projects and not forming audit committees.

She said GTWHI received RM11.72mil from the state government between 2014 and 2016.

Meanwhile, Sungai Pinang Gerakan coordinator Ng Fook On questioned the allocation of an extra RM500,000 from GTWHI to Joe Sidek Productions in 2015 for organising the George Town Festival.

“The state has to probe this and its general manager should step down temporarily pending investigations,” he said.

He said the Auditor-General’s report found that GTWHI, during George Town Festival 2015, did not obtain revenue from the contractor as stated in the contract, but instead paid extra.

He further asked why GTWHI did not get Joe Sidek Productions to return assets worth RM163,996.00 after the festival, as pointed out in the report.

In a press statement, GTWHI general manager Dr Ang Meng Chee, who is attending a Unesco programme in New Delhi, said new SOPs were introduced and the management would improve them with input from the staff members.

“From 2017 onwards, all appointments of consultants or contractors are only done with permission from our board of directors.

“Meetings were conducted with Joe Sidek Productions as the duly appointed contractor to improve the reporting and documentation of the George Town Festival.

“GTWHI will continue to supervise and ensure that George Town Festival is conducted in accordance with the contract,” she said.

She added that GTWHI took note of the suggestion from the National Audit Department to restore dilapidated buildings in the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site using the donated money from external agencies.

“Such efforts can only be done with the cooperation of building owners and they might involve these owners surrendering rights to their properties before GTWHI can take action,” she added.