KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Water Department expects to save RM1bil in payments made to contractors by reviewing lopsided 20-year concession agreements for the management of water treatment plants and dams.
State Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Peter Anthony, whose ministry oversees the Water Department, said six contractors that manage a total of 58 water treatment plants and dams in Sabah have been identified for possible misuse of funds.
“These contractors were paid about RM3.7bil to oversee and manage 58 water treatment plants and dams for a period of 20 years, but the money has not been used for that purpose,” he claimed during a press conference here Monday (Aug 27).
He said the contractors are allowed to claim payment for works that cost RM5,000 and above.
“So despite being paid such a huge sum, the money is not used for the management (of the water treatment plants), as they still claim payments for whatever works they do (unless it costs RM5,000 or less),” Anthony said.
He said this was a huge waste of the people’s money.
“We will re-look at these concessionaires and the agreements may be restructured upon review,” he said without elaborating.
“If our restructuring (of the agreements) works out as planned, it could result in RM1bil in savings over the course of 20 years,” Anthony added.
However, he said they would need to thoroughly study the terms of the contracts as they were signed by the previous Barisan Nasional government.
Meanwhile, the Melalap assemblyman also said that he has brought this matter to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and is urging them to re-open investigations into the Sabah Watergate scandal.
In the Watergate scandal, the MACC seized RM114mil worth of assets – RM53.7mil in cash stashed in houses and offices – from two senior Sabah Water Department officials on Oct 4, 2016.
The duo were investigated for alleged abuse of power and money laundering linked to contracts for RM3.3bil in federal-funded projects channelled to the department since 2010.
Two others – a Datuk businessman who is a brother of one of the officials, and an accountant – were also arrested.
Six days later, MACC traced RM30mil stashed in foreign banks and another RM30mil in 127 land titles for housing, agriculture and commercial.
MACC also seized nine vehicles worth RM2.7mil, an assortment of jewellery worth RM3.64mil and designer handbags worth RM500,000.
On Oct 11, 2016, three Sabah Water Department employees “voluntarily” surrendered about RM1mil allegedly taken in the process of approving water projects under the RM3.3bil federal allocations.
Four people have been charged with multiple counts of money laundering in connection to the case, and are now out on bail pending trial.