Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sinking Funds or Social Action Funds?

Before any investors were to consider investing in the Iskandar Development Region in Southern Johor (IDR), they are slapped with contribution funds.

Any investors or companies who intend to participate in the IDR must first pay contributions to a social fund that would be set up by the government.

The fund would be called Social Action Fund and would be managed by the co-ruptors and the rationale is that the fund would be utilised for community development programmes. What community development programmes, it has yet to be identified and any programmed the co-ruptors would eventually design and implement is esoteric and mystified.

Take for example where contractors had to contribute 0.25% of their project value to Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB). The board was originally set up to develop the contruction industry, in particular, the main problem was the standard practices and quality of the skills and products. The CIDB was supposed to set up best practices and standards for the industry players and to progressively developed the industry players (that is, the contractors) to become world-class contractors, comparable with the multi-national corporations in terms of technology, skills, product quality, innovation and magnitude. That way, over a reasonable period of time, Malaysian contractors would be as good and competitive as the Japanese and Koreans, or to a higher level, the Americans and British or European contractors.

It is now more than 30 years since CIDB had existed and the only result they had paraded is the fact that a few Malaysian contractors had secured some projects in India and Sri Lanka, both Indian states of which Samy Vellu had played an influential role. But is that what CIDB is suppose to achieve?

Observed who are the workers in the industry? The Indonesians! 90% of the workers are Indonesians in our Malaysian construction industry? What happen to the vocational schools, Institute Kemahiran and all those skill training centres? Didn't they generate out skill workers and skillful supervisors? Take a survey and find out the skills of the supervisors and what had they gain or benefited from CIDB's role?

Over the decades, billions had been collected by CIDB and as the accounts of CIDB is not published for public knowledge, one could only guess what happened to the monies and where it was spent.

More unfortunately is the fact that the top management of CIDB are great leaders from the construction industry - ex-JKR Director-Generals and ex-Construction CEO. Did they ever considered the results, performance and achievements? What was and is their KPI? It's a far greater shame than the concessionaire agreements.

Wouldn't the Social Action Fund (SAF) be any different?

Why don't NST and The Star made some surveys at the various construction project sites and conduct some interviews with contractors or their managers and find out what the public had benefited?

Further, there are also more other funds such as development funds/sinking funds (ISF) collected by the authorities from property developers...what had they done with the monies?

In Selangor, property developers had to contribute to various other funds set up by the state government in the name of Social Action Funds or Infrastructure Funds, or whatever name they called it. Can the government let us know how they deal with the money? Would The Star and NST investigate and tell us?

It must be sinking sunk deep, deep down there!

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