Sarawak Government Urged to pay up Professional Consultancies’ claims promptly for all government projects

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Media Statement By Violet Yong:

I would like to call on the Sarawak State Government to pay promptly the professional fees and charges for the consultancy services engaged in all government development projects.

Of late, I was given to understand that the implementing state authorities or agencies have been very slow in their payments to the professional consultancy firms that were claimed in accordance with stages of payment of fees that has been agreed upon in the consultancy agreement signed between the parties.

The delayed in payments is a major concern that the state government should look into and address on immediately.

In particular, majority of the engineering consultancy firms in Sarawak are enter countering payment delayed issues for the state government projects or government linked company (GLC) projects they involved in.

The delayed period could drag on to more than 6 months to a year or so from the date the claims for payment were made by the consultancy firms to the state authorities or GLC.

The severity of the payment delayed issue is mainly due to beau acracy red tape that causes the slow process of payment approval. The other reason is that the authorities are taking their own sweet time to finalize the consultancy agreements. Without any executed and stamped consultancy agreements, the implementing agencies would disallow claim for payments to be submitted by the consultancy firms.

In addition, there is no clause in the consultancy agreements to specify the time frame for the implementing agencies to made the payment after invoices for payments were submitted.

In my view, the State Government is not acting fairly and professionally to the consultancy firms. While on one hand, the state implementing agencies like JKR Sarawak, LCDA, JBALB etc are relying heavily on the appointed architects, engineers, quantity surveyors for their professional advises, services etc for the implementation of the government projects, yet on the other hand payments for work done were not made swiftly.

As a result of the issue of delayed payment by the State Government, many professionals consultancy firms are facing severe cash flow problem and that has affected the overall performance.

As told, most of the time when the consultancy firms submitted their invoice for payment to the implementing agencies like JKR Sarawak, LCDA, JBALB etc the funding for the projects is hardly ever ready for payment out.

In most cases, the consultancy firms have to personally chase for payments for their work done by calling or hopping from one departments after another.

For example, for projects under JKR Sarawak, after the consultancy firms submitted a claim for payment, JKR Sarawak will inform that the fund is not with the department yet. So the consultancy firms will then have to go to the relevant state ministries to chase for the money to be disbursed to JKR Sarawak. Yet, in most instances, the relevant ministries will inform the consultancy firms that they are still waiting for the disbursement of fundings from the State Economic Planning Unit. And the cycle for following up the issue will continue. Obviously, there is lack of efficiency on the part of Sarawak state government in making payments on time to the professionals engaged.

I am highlighting this payment delayed issue so that the Sarawak state government will take immediate action to improve the payment process system to all eligible payees.

“It will be very embarrassing for Sarawak Government which yield billions in annual revenues to be seen as a not so good paymaster if this issue is not properly addressed.”