Thousands of deceased padi farmers, many of whom passed away more than 10 years ago, received government subsidies and incentives worth a total of RM57.92 million between 2016 and 2018.
This was uncovered in an audit by the National Audit Department into the management of subsidies and incentives for the farmers.
The subsidies were for fertilisers and pesticides.
According to the audit, in the first planting season of 2016, some 3,210 deceased farmers received the aid. This increased to 7,061 deceased recipients in the second planting season of 2018.
The date of death for recipients stretches back as far as 1967. A total of 2,337 of the recipients had been deceased for more than 10 years as of Dec 2018.
The Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Ministry, in response to the audit, said they did not reject the possibility that the subsidies and incentives were being collected by the recipients’ next of kin.
It said a check done together with the National Registration Department on farmers’ data found that 11,712 have been confirmed as deceased, while 5,099 have no records registered with the Department.
It explained that dead farmers were still on the list of recipients because it has not been purged. The list has since been updated for the first planting season of 2019.
Meanwhile, the audit also found that between 2016 and 2018, RM28.8 million in subsidies and incentives went to between 1,427 and 2,421 aid recipients whose identity card numbers “did not exist”.
The ministry explained that this was due to clerical errors when entering the particulars of the deceased farmers, and that this too has been fixed.
Other weaknesses found by the audit include late delivery of fertiliser to farmers.
A total of RM192.6 million in fines on suppliers for late delivery of fertiliser or supplying fertiliser that did not meet specifications, between 2016 and 2017, were only sought by the government in July 2019, and payments have yet to be made.
Risda investment arm used RM51.9m bank overdrafts to make ends meet
The investment arm of the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) made RM51.94 million in bank overdrafts to make ends meet between 2016 and 2018.
A report by the National Audit Department found that Permodalan Risda Berhad (PRB) used the overdrafts, among others, as an advance to a subsidiary, and even to repay previous overdraft transactions.
RM26.57 million of the overdrafts were made in 2018 from Public Islamic Bank Berhad (PIBB). PRB also made RM15.13 million in overdrafts from the same bank in 2017.
Overdrafts were also made with CIMB, totalling RM8.49 million in 2016 and RM1.75 million in 2017.
The total fees incurred was RM1.39 million.
In 2017, an RM10 million overdraft from PIBB was used to pay off the CIMB overdraft, which PRB terminated due to getting better rates from the former.
RM500,000 of an overdraft was also used to repay PIBB in 2018.
Meanwhile, RM20.45 million was given as an advance to subsidiary PRB Grid Technology Solutions Sdn Bhd, without any charges or fixed repayment date. This advance has not been repaid as of June 2019.
PRB also used RM6.5 million to finance personal loans applied by Risda group staff.
As of 2018, RM39.61 million of the overdrafts are yet to be repaid.
PRB, in response to the audit, defended the use of overdrafts as a temporary measure which was part of business and cash flow management strategies.
However, the National Audit Department said the use of overdrafts showed PRB’s inefficiency in managing its finances.