Our financial position now stable, says Bernama management

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) today issued a statement to announce that its financial position is now stable and under control.

The Bernama management said that all the outstanding payments to the relevant organisations had been settled accordingly.

The statement was issued in the wake of recent reports that Bernama was facing financial constraints.

‘The Bernama management expresses its gratitude to the finance ministry and communications and multimedia ministry for their concern and cooperation in helping to address the matter.

“The management also regrets the confusion and inconvenience this matter has caused, and undertakes to exercise prudence and abide by good governance, ethics and best practices in financial management in future,” the statement added.

On Aug 10, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said his ministry will investigate whether money meant to pay Bernama staff had been “diverted” for other purposes.

This followed a news report that Bernama had told its staff it was facing cash flow problems and that it had been forced to skip contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to pay their July salaries on time.

A news report, quoting a senior accounts and finance manager from the government-backed company, informed staff that it had not received its grant from the ministry.

Lim said the ministry took a serious view of the claim that Bernama had to use the staff’s EPF contributions to pay their July salaries.

He questioned why his ministry had only received on July 22 an application for the grant, dated July 19, if the agency had been strapped for cash.

He said Bernama’s CEO Nurini Kassim’s statement that the ministry faced financial constraints was baseless as it had always prioritised paying salaries and EPF contributions.

“Emoluments and salaries will always be provided with sufficient funds to be paid in advance compared to other charges.

“This raises the question of whether the money that should be allocated for salaries and EPF contributions has been ‘diverted’ by Bernama for other payment purposes.

“I have directed the ministry to initiate an investigation to determine who should be held responsible for this serious situation so that appropriate action can be taken,” he said.

Lim said the federal government under Pakatan Harapan was not bankrupt.

He said the ministry had always been blamed when agencies overspent their budgets or failed to manage their finances well.