Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rafizi: PM interfered in RM100mil R&D grant

Ewon Rafizi Ramli
PETALING JAYA: PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli today alleged that the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was instrumental in awarding a RM100 million research and development grant to a private company.

The grant, available under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti), was awarded to the private firm, NSE Resources Corporation (M) Sdn Bhd, he claimed.
Speaking at the press conference, he released a letter dated Jan 21, 2014 signed by the Mosti minister Ewon Ebin to the company, which granted the fund to the firm.

The letter referred to another letter from the Prime Minister’s Department dated Nov 21, 2013 on the grant application to build a gasifier steam boiler plant in order to make Malaysia a ‘premier renewable energy based in sustainable wood chip biomass’.
Rafizi, however, pointed out that the grant given to the company for the commercial project involved public funds.
The exorbitant amount also goes against the procedure of grant disbursement under Mosti,  Rafizi said.
He said based on Mosti’s annual report, the maximum amount given for a project, to date, was RM2 million under the Technology Acquisition Fund (TAF).
Rafizi said the RM100 million grant should not come under R&D because it was intended for commercial projects.
The PKR strategy director had, last Wednesday, claimed that Mosti had misused its R&D grants worth RM1.1 billion.
Mosti deputy minister Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah has denied this claim.
Abu Bakar, yesterday, said the allocation for R&D were given to researchers using tight procedures and that their applications were approved by an evaluation committee comprising experts.
However, Rafizi retorted that Abu Bakar was unaware of the latest RM100 million grant.
“But I do not blame him since this (RM100 million grant) is above his level. This will victimise many researchers and research groups who go through stringent procedures just to get RM500,000 for research.
“This also explains why Malaysia struggles to achieve the right level of R&D commercialisation,” he quipped.
Rafizi also asked whether the same flexibility will be given to other companies involved in the technology industry to fund their projects.
“Since Mosti had given a RM100 million grant to this company, would it also give similar grants to other firms wanting to do research?” he added.
He said this episode also proved how the Prime Minister was involved in granting such a huge amount to a company just for R&D.
“We do not know how many other instructions he gave, since the total R&D allocation is RM1.1 billion,” said Rafizi.
The PKR strategy director said he would wait for an explanation on the matter from both Najib and Ewon and promised more details on the issue later this week.