Graft thrives when times are hard

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PETALING JAYA: Corruption flourishes when times are tough and it is therefore unwise of the government to reduce the annual budget for the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), says Transparency International-Malaysia President Akhbar Sattar.

Speaking to FMT, Akhbar said Budget 2017 should have seen to the strengthening of MACC with more resources.

“When there is an economic downturn, more people are likely to get involved in corruption,” he said, citing a 2013 Ernst & Young Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services survey in the Asia-Pacific region.

In that survey, some 54 per cent of respondents agreed that Malaysian companies took “shortcuts” to meet targets when the economy was sluggish and this was double the regional average of 27 per cent.

Last Friday, when presenting his proposals for next year’s national budget, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced a RM216 million allocation for MACC. Last year, the amount was RM251 million. In 2015, it was RM294 million.

“The bottom line,” said Akhbar, “is that the MACC needs as much resources as it can get to combat corruption in these tough times, not have its budget cut.”

He also said it was especially crucial during an economic downturn to ensure government contracts were given to competent contractors. This was why measures and procedures to ensure transparency and accountability were so important, he added.

Yesterday, political analyst Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said the cut in the MACC budget could create the impression that the government was not serious about fighting corruption.

Cut in MACC funding creates bad impression