Government gets slap on the wrist

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Issue 1093, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 1006
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) in its 2009 work report slammed some public departments for their poor operating systems, personnel management and administrative procedures, which the graft buster said are the “source” of complaints and discontent in society.

According to the report released yesterday, the CCAC pointed out that the administrative decisions made by certain departments failed to tackle the “core problems” since the responsibilities among them were “not clearly defined” and they grasped “incomplete information”.

The report also said that the departments did not understand fully the related regulations which therefore caused inconsistencies between certain decisions and the laws.

It added that the operating approaches of the departments were unable to adjust based on changes in society, and the awareness of “solving problems timely” was “still weak”.

In addition, the CCAC said the departments could not precisely explain and use the right regulations when making decisions, or did not seek professional opinions when encountering problems, which led to “wrong and even unlawful decisions that harmed the public interest”.

As a result, the report outlined suggestions to the public departments, including to summarise all the previously handled cases and make a conclusion; reinforce the awareness of integrity and set up a monitoring mechanism; as well as to put more effort in publicity and education and ensure a clear flow of information.

Controversial exhibition

In the report the CCAC announced the results of the investigation concerning how the contract for the Macau SAR Accomplishment Exhibition was granted last year to Primedia, a marketing and event organising company.

The Government Information Bureau (GCS) is criticised by the graft buster for not having fully used the pre-qualification and tender processes, including that the bureau had already “assumed that only Primedia would have the capability to organise the exhibition, but failed to give any explanations in the tender results”.

Moreover, the CCAC said the GCS should be able to foresee the cost of the exhibition and therefore a public tender must have to be staged based on the rules. Yet, the bureau did not ask the Chief Executive for an exemption in the process.

The exhibition, which was held in Beijing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Macau SAR, cost the Government MOP 32 million. At the time, Eva Lou, who also held a position in Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On’s electoral cabinet, was the director of Primedia. Lou maintained that her position had nothing to do with the contract won by the company she runs.

Yesterday, in response to the report, the GCS said it “respects” the findings of the CCAC and will adopt the advice in preparing for the same exhibition to be held in Macau in the future.

The GCS said three members from the MICE Development Committee have been invited to be technical advisors to the Macau exhibition, and will provide support and professional assistance in the preparation process.

As of August 13 the last day of the tender application, the bureau has received five proposals to organise the Macau exhibition. The proposals are currently being analysed and the bureau will strive to complete the assessment of the bids by the end of the month.

LPG halfway warehouse had no license

The graft buster also pointed out errors in the land licensing process of the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) halfway warehouse in Ilha Verde.

The company failed to renew the temporary land occupation license between 2003 and 2006, but the CCAC said the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) allowed it to continue to operate the warehouse on the public land without the license.

The bureau is also criticised for overlooking the residents’ demand to move the warehouse away after a fire incident in 2003.

In addition, the report said the DSSOPT “had never listened to the fire brigade’s opinions”, and exempted the warehouse from installing an automatic fire sprinkler system.

The CCAC also slammed the Economic Services Bureau for allowing the company to run the business for years without a license, and “unlawfully” extended the deadline where no prosecutions were initiated, thus “making the flammable products facility safety regulations a piece of blank paper”.

DSSOPT director Jaime Carion admitted that there were “flaws” in the administrative process and in the handling of the fire safety issue.

He said that the bureau “completely accepts and respects the CCAC’s advice”, and will carry out an evaluation to improve the administrative procedures.

He also explained that when the land occupation license was first granted, the company only stored empty gas bottles in the warehouse and no gas filling facilities were installed there.

Since the warehouse did not have a cover, Carion said the bureau allowed it not to install the fire sprinkler system.

He also said that the bureau will “closely monitor the safety of the warehouse”.

Meanwhile, the DSSOPT head told reporters that the construction of a new LPG halfway warehouse, “which will meet all safety standards”, will begin no later than September “near Ilha Verde”.

Asked if the new location will be close to residential areas, Carion said “Macau is a small place”, adding that the related department concluded that it will be “safe” to have the facility there.

However, he admitted that no consultation regarding the new location was held since “the residents will oppose it anyway” because of “safety concerns psychologically”.

On the other hand, the Economic Services Bureau spokesperson said they accept the CCAC criticism and will reinforce supervision on their administrative work in the future.

The bureau also said that the company was given a longer deadline to obtain the land occupation license since “if the business was terminated, the supply of LPG to the residents would be affected”.

According to the report, in 2009 the CCAC received a total of 923 complaints, a 16 percent year-on-year increase. According to CCAC’s annual report, the rise is presumably related to the fact that 2009 was an electoral year in Macau.

Of the 923 complaints, 768 were criminal complaints (38.9 percent year-on-year increase) while 155 were administrative complaints.

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