In his book 'A Doctor in the House', former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wrote about 'Christmas Shopping' - a habit to finish unspent budget unnecessarily.
Some ministries and agencies will have to find ways to finish the allocation for that fiscal year or having the new budget for the next financial year deducted. Having failed to spend also brings the impression of incompetency.
"In the past, unspent budget allocations for the various Ministries and Departments would be used up at the end of every year for what was called 'Christmas shopping". They were determined to use up all the funds allocated to them for the year; how else might they ask for increased funding, or to resist cuts, for the next year?
"Public servants try not to return funds because doing so implies that they are inefficient or too generously funded in the first place, so they will do just anything to show that all their allocations have been spent.
"Often, it was said, they bought useless things, inappropriate equipment of gadgets that quickly became obsolete after hardly any use...", according to TDM, who 'put a stop' to such a bad habit after taking office in 1981.
However, I just wonder if such a practice is still on subscribe.
After some trips throughout the country over the past two months, I noted some agencies were busy sending their personnel to various meetings and 'courses'. And the venues chosen are normally 'far from home' and at posh hotels and resorts.
Few senior officials at different agencies also told me that their bosses have issued order to buy things that are irrelevant with their scope of work.
I am of the opinion that the Auditor General office should be more efficient in its job. Auditing should start sometimes in October every year and not January. When Ishak Tadin was auditor general, the reports came as early as April and not by year-end as in practice today.
Yes, no government is perfect but we should be able to control such an expenditure. No point of telling the public that an agency bought a RM1.70/kg sugar at RM170/kg when it was done 15 months ago.
Christmas is around the corner and New Year 2012 is just about 20 days away. General election will be held possibly early next year and all this will scrutinized by the voters.