KUALA LUMPUR: The story from Bernama below is again self-explanatory. The PAC seemed to say that the decision by the government to defer the procurement of the Cougar was not a wise decision as voted for by Malaysian Defence readers. Although it had stated before that the procurement had followed proper procedures it appears the committee failed to decide whether the purchase price was fair or not and whether the Cougar was the right choice to replace the Nuri
To answer that question since the PAC is basically recommending the procurement of a Nuri replacement ASAP, there is no need for them to set-up another government-centric committee. First they need to speak to Eurocopter on the price and contract issues. Furthermore, they must get Eurocopter to reveal whether or not the price had been marked up as payment for their local agents whom identity/identities, also must be revealed. If the price was marked up for that reason, the numbers should be revised downwards if they want to continue with the procurement.
Once the local agent/agents are identified, they must also faced the committee and must reveal any dealings they had with the Defence Ministry officers and personnel to ensure that they (including Eurocopter) had not committed any illegal acts to influence the decision to choose the Cougar. This could be difficult of course as the ACA is already investigating the same case but it could be done. Should the Cougar be dropped if any illegal dealings had occurred is the decision the Government must make. Malaysian Defence believes it will be a wise decision to re-open the tender should this was the case.
And on the question whether or not its the right helo for the job, to be fair, they must also get the views of the Nuri crews themselves. A few senior pilots, load-masters and engineers may well be the best people to make the committee understand the issue.
And perhaps, the PAC could hire experts, from overseas or locals, to pore through the financial and technical documents and get the answers for them especially whether or not its wise to spend so much money during these hard times. Personally, Malaysian Defence believes that this is not a question of value for money (how do you value a good utility helicopter?) but whether or not the chosen helicopter can do better than what Nuri had done during the last 40 years.
Only then the matter could be solved as best as possible. Otherwise, the questions will always linger.
PAC Proposes Independent Panel To Advise Government On Eurocopter Purchase
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 (Bernama) — The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has suggested that an independent review panel be set up to advise the government on the purchase of Eurocopter’s EC 725 helicopters.
The proposal is among recommendations contained in the committee’s report on the Eurocopter deal which was distributed to members of parliament on Dec 4.
In a statement today, the PAC said, the proposal was to ensure there would be value for money in the deal.
It said that the independent panel should comprise experts in related fields, with the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department managing their appointments.
“The PAC is not able to ascertain whether the cost to purchase the Eurocopter EC 725 is high or otherwise.
The PAC was told that military requirements differed from one country to another,” the statement said.
The Defence Ministry had expressed intention to buy the helicopters to replace the ageing Nuri aircraft, which it had been using since 40 years ago.
The government however decided to postpone the purchase due to the current global economic condition.
The PAC also said that the Defence Ministry and related central agency should conduct price negotiations with the aircrat’s supplier.
For that purpose, it said, market studies should be carried out as basis for the negotiations.
It was also important for the Defence Ministry to carry out test flights and physical inspections apart from monitoring the production of the EC 725 and making sure payments were made in accordance with the work progress.
There should also be a pre-delivery inspection as well as testing and commissioning prior to making the final payment, it said.
To ensure the government’s interests were taken care of in the procurement contract, the PAC suggested that the Defence Ministry seek the views of the Attorney-General before signing the contract.
The aircraft’s specification should also be spelled out in the contract, it said.
The PAC also felt that the purchase should be made at the latest by 2011 as the Nuri could only be used until 2015.
“It takes three years to prepare the aircraft and another year for flight training,” it said, adding that the government should reconsider its decision to defer the purchase of the Eurocopter.
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