Have proper divestment plan before privatising govt assets, IDEAS tells Putrajaya

The government has decided not to sell PLUS Malaysia Bhd.

KUALA LUMPUR: In backing the Cabinet decision to not sell PLUS Malaysia Bhd, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) today called for a clear framework for reforms to government-linked companies (GLC), including divestment.

IDEAS said the government, as guardian of national assets, should design and make public a comprehensive divestment policy framework to ensure policy clarity.

“The framework should also fully consider the implications of GLC reforms, which may entail asset sales, to the broader socio-economic dynamics,” said Ali Salman, the CEO of IDEAS.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Cabinet yesterday decided against selling PLUS, adding: “We have studied all the bids made by the private sector and, in the end, we decided that the best way is not to sell PLUS to anyone but to retain it with Khazanah and EPF.”

Ali said in a statement today that since Mahathir raised the issue of divestment, there had been much speculation about the sale of national assets, including PLUS, and that this not only raised “concerns of transparency and governance” but also did not inspire public confidence.

“IDEAS thinks this is due to an absence of a clearly laid out framework for GLC reform, which should also include divestment. A transparent divestment process should be in place before the government engages in privatisation,” said Ali.

This framework, he added, should be given urgency in anticipation of the tabling of the 12th Malaysia Plan by mid-year which would outline the long-term economic direction of the country as well as the relationship between the government and the private economy.

“So, the role of government-linked companies as well as statutory bodies have to be revisited and made relevant to better address socio-economic challenges of the future.”

Towards this, Ali said, IDEAS would organise a series of consultative roundtable meetings with relevant stakeholders to contribute towards policy recommendations on reforming GLCs.