Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Good deeds must be seen and felt

Adapted from malaysianinsider
MARCH 31 – Last week, the government announced that contracts worth a total of RM3.2billion will be awarded for projects identified under the RM60billion stimulus package.
This shows that the government is aware of the need for quick implementation of the stimulus package.

During the debate in parliament, members of parliament from both sides urged the government to ensure fast and transparent disbursement of funds under the mini-budget to restore the confidence of the rakyat and to effectively lend the economy a helping hand.

The dismal growth for the fourth quarter of 2008 and accelerating drop in exports expected in 2009 shows that the effect of the economic slowdown is already affecting Malaysia.

We do not have the luxury to be laid back and say that we are spared from the effect of this global crisis.

Aside from speedy disbursement of funds and execution of the projects, monitoring of the projects is equally important to ensure all bottlenecks are cleared. In the past, government projects have been synonymous with bureaucracy, requiring multiple approval and licenses before they can take off. This must change.

The government has to ensure that red tape does strangle the government’s or any goodwill or positive outcome will be watered down. Projects must be fast-tracked but always with proper transparent procedures that do not create doubt and suspicions on the process.

As I have mentioned in my previous posts and in parliament, whether Barisan Nasional is able to withstand the onslaught of the opposition in the next general election depends on how we handle the economic crisis and resolve the bread-and-butter issues.

It would be pointless to roll out one stimulus package after another if nothing gets implemented in a timely manner.

I am pleased that several committees are being set up to monitor the implementation of projects under the stimulus package, together with the coordination with other relevant agencies. This shows improvement compared to the first stimulus package.

Though this is a first step to ensure that projects can be pushed through the system, I hope that the proper follow-up actions, accountability and also authority is given to the committees to resolve problems instead being just more committees for the sake of having committees.

As seen in the first stimulus package announced in November 2008, only 16,386 projects worth RM1.67billion package have been awarded and implemented. Meanwhile the remaining 38,000 projects will be rolled out in April and completed in August 2009.

This may seem to be achievement as these projects are completed within less than one year since the stimulus package was tabled.

However, much is still not known about the nature of the 38,000 or the 16,386 projects.

With such big figures, both in the number of projects and amount to be spent, it can be mind-boggling for the rakyat. It is quite hard at times for people to relate to how a budget of RM60billion or a stimulus package is able to help them especially if they are not the direct beneficiaries.

As such, even though the government may be proactive in putting in place measures to mitigate the effects of the global crisis, the rakyat may perceive that the stimulus package is just a waste of money as it benefits only a few.

Thus it is equally vital that the Government emphasises the dissemination of information on the projects implemented, the progress and the target achieved to enable the rakyat to be informed on the work done by the Government.

I hope a website is set up to keep tabs on spending of the stimulus package will shed light on the details of the projects and relay information on how the government is assisting the rakyat and the economy.

The same scenario can be seen in the subsidy spending that takes up a huge portion of our budget every year. Since the subsidies are not really seen and not much information is provided on a daily basis, the net results have been taken for granted. Now it is expected that the Government must give subsidies or the rakyat will react negatively.

Nearly every sector is heavily subsidised by the Government, from petrol, diesel and cooking gas to wheat flour, bread, education, healthcare and many more. In 2009, the government is expected to spend RM27.9billion in subsidies.

But how long can the Government continue to fund subsidies, especially if revenue from commodities is on a downward trend?

Hence, I have always proposed that the government should reexamine the subsidy system by giving direct grants to cut down on inefficiencies and to generate political goodwill.

Alternatively, as a short term measure, the Government should educate the public more about subsidies by informing them about the subsidy on each packet of sugar, cooking oil, or each operation, medical check-up and also in terms of education.

Everyone knows it cost RM1 to register at a government hospital but how much subsidy is in the medication or treatment?

A breakdown of information to the micro level would enable the rakyat to understand where the subsidy is spent. If not, the RM27.9billion subsidy would not strike a chord with the rakyat and would just merely be an announcement figure.

If a detailed analysis is not available, it is time that the Government embark on a cost evaluation programme to enable it to understand the cost and to avoid any ballooning expenditure.

With the implementation of the first stimulus package and the mini budget which would be a priority of the top officials in the government, I hope that any bottlenecks and red tape that are identified can also be resolved permanently to avoid problems from recurring.

If any procedures need to be amended, restructured, scrapped or even abolished, it should be done now.

Through this process, the implementation of the mini budget would also provide the government a platform to improve its processes.. It can be done if there is sufficient political will and determination.





























1 comment:

  1. YB,虽然政府不停拨款帮助解决民生问题,但是对于郊外的居民而言大多数都为交工,农业产品价格是导致现今经济问题的原因之一,然而都市生活却必须每日不停缴付大道收费(大道使用者),要是政府能够把振兴经济计划的开销用于更为人民分担日益上涨的日常开销,人民将会有更多的钱来花费,同时也可将刺激经济成长。谢谢!