Wednesday, November 26, 2014

MNCF must explain missing prizemoney

There remains a tantalising question as to how far the sports ministry is willing to bend over backwards for the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF), with yet another bailout package now on the cards to save Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL).

  Yes, MNCF was dealt with sternly in being dished out a one-month suspension which ended on Monday for its continued mismanagement of public funds related to the road development programme and for the organisation of LTdL between 2011 and last year.

  That case involved accounts of those three years, but not what the MNCF would drag the ministry into this year.
  Let’s take a simple, straight forward look at the chronology of what transpired with the 2014 edition of LTdL’s RM1.6 million prizemoney package.

  The ministry, as the co-organisers in collaboration with the MNCF, was required to deposit the full amount of the prizemoney into the national body’s account at least 30 days before the start of the race on Feb 27, which means the money was deposited via the National Sports Council (NSC) by Jan 27.
  The race ended on March 7, and the 20 teams that contested the 10-stage race should have begun receiving payments of prizemoney upon anti-doping clearance which was 75 days after March 7, from May 21 onwards. Most teams revealed they have yet to be paid.

  A source alleged on Friday that the MNCF has admitted to having spent the funds on other matters, citing a cabinet paper tabled by former Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek in 2011, that ties a RM1.5 million annual grant for development with the budget allocation by the government for LTdL.

  The MNCF allegedly claims it spent the LTdL prizemoney on programmes and it would reimburse the money when the government releases the RM1.5 million development funds for this year.
  Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin confirmed on Jan 28 the actual sums received by the MNCF road development were RM1.81 million in 2011, RM2.95 million in 2012 and RM2.45 million last year, significantly more than the annual RM1.5 million cited in the cabinet paper.

  This was uncovered in the midst of a sports ministry audit that began on Jan 17, into MNCF’s accounts related to public funds channeled to its road programme and organisation of LTdL between 2011 and 2013.

  That ultimately resulted in adverse findings that brought about MNCF’s one-month suspension and it could face deregistration should the replies submitted to Sports Commissioner Ahmad Shapawi Ismail on Monday, not satisfy 13 conditions set by the audit department.

  Already trapped in a compromising situation, the MNCF has created more issues over the LTdL 2014 prizemoney. Should the money not be paid, the teams could go to the International Cycling Union (UCI), which in turn could revoke its sanctioning for the LTdL on Feb 28-March 8. They could stop the race from happening.

  But what exactly the MNCF spent the money on also begs an explanation, as clearly it was not used to settle the prizemoney of the Jelajah Malaysia 2013, which it organised but was funded by the ministry. The ministry, understandably withheld funding for MNCF following the adverse discoveries by the audit in January — the reason why prizemoney for that race remains unpaid.

  Everything said and done, the fact is the RM1.6 million prizemoney for LTdL 2014 was in fact paid by the ministry. It is the MNCF which has not paid the winners their dues, six months after payments were supposed to commence.

  If the MNCF had spent the money, it has to be held accountable whether or not the government decides on a bailout plan to settle the money owed to teams.

  Just how many bailouts will the taxpayers have to foot before the MNCF is really held accountable is anybody’s guess, but it is quite clear that public funds and the MNCF simply do not go hand in hand. This can only be solved if the ministry takes appropriate action.


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