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Malaysians overwhelmed by problems due to poor planning

April 20, 2017

Without proper planning by the government, the lives of Malaysians will only get tougher in the future.

COMMENT

malaysia-planBy Lim Sue Goan

Poor planning has been one of the administrative lapses of the Malaysia government. Even where there is a policy or blueprint, often things don’t go as planned or promised.

I can name some examples to prove the government’s poor planning ability. First and foremost, the unified secondary education stream issue.

The government had in 2012 drawn up the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 which should have provided a clear direction for the country’s future education development.

Unfortunately, the deputy prime minister suddenly came up with the argument that a unified education stream from secondary level onward would help unite the people.

As a matter of fact, there are no reliable scientific theories to prove that mono-stream education will help promote national unity because a concept that pegs education with unity makes it impossible for the government to harness the advantages of multi-stream education.

When the government is actively luring foreign investments, particularly from China, India and the Middle East, it cannot afford to keep adhering to the antiquated mentality and should implement a more open educational policy to develop multi-stream education.

Following the establishment of branch campuses by renowned foreign universities such as Xiamen University of China, we absolutely have what it takes to become a regional education hub if proper planning is in place. Unfortunately, our erratic policy means education development will continue to be disrupted.

Despite the fact that the government announced in 2012 to recognise the degrees of some 820 universities in China, the JPA has since only recognised 27, or a mere 2.76% of the total.

Even to this day, national-type high schools in the country are still waiting for the budgetary allocations set aside for 2016, and this has put many of them in a strained financial situation.

All these serve to illustrate poor planning on the part of the government.

Another instance is the lack of long-term planning for government expenditures.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said during a recent National Transformation 2050 (TN50)-EPF management forum that the government currently spends about RM14 billion on civil servants’ pensions a year, and this amount could easily rise to RM20-RM30 billion in future, making up a significant part of the government’s expenditure.

The actual figure could be even higher as Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani had earlier revealed that civil servants’ pensions topped RM19 billion last year.

According to a report on the latest issue of The Edge Financial Weekly, civil service remuneration will soar from RM77.42 billion this year to RM184 billion in 10 years while pensions could triple to RM63.92 billion during the same period of time. Together, they will add up to RM247.92 billion a year.

The total federal government expenditures for 2017 will be RM260.8 billion, of which RN214.8 billion are administrative expenditures. If we don’t streamline our civil service, a big chunk of the treasury’s revenue will be used to feed our public servants in the future.

Lest we forget, people aged 60 years and above will make up 15% of the country’s population by 2030. Since we will become an ageing society by then, how are we going to feed this massive army of civil servants?

Without economic transformation, it is very likely that the GST rate will be increased to 12% or even higher in 10 years in order to balance the accounts.

Meanwhile, our highway concession contracts seem to be favouring the concessionaires. How is the government going to afford compensations if we don’t allow the highway concessionaires to increase the toll rates?

Medical expenses are also on the rise beyond the affordability of the government. It is essential for the authorities to seek medical insurance and other soft landing solutions as soon as possible.

We can imagine that without proper government planning, the lives of Malaysians will only get tougher in the future.

On helping the people cushion the effects of soaring living expenses, we have yet to see any solid plans from the government. Johari said the government would introduce a mechanism to help alleviate the people’s burden if crude prices surge to US$80 to US$100 per barrel.

Even as OPEC has extended the production cut agreement, countries like the United States have taken this opportunity to increase their output. The upward trend of oil prices should be capped, so when will we ever see US$80 to US$100 levels again?

Living expenses have already soared way too high now. By right the government should draw up plans to immediately relieve the pressure of the people instead of keeping us waiting and waiting.

The Chinese economy has been able to take off in a big way because of the country’s macroscopic vision and excellent planning and execution. Here in Malaysia, our politicians only know how to plan for their own short-term political gains.

Lim Sue Goan writes for Sin Chew Daily.

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