PETALING JAYA: An economist has lamented the fragmentation of government programmes, saying life needs to be made simple for small investors, small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs), and the common people.
Apurva Sanghi, who is the World Bank’s lead economist for Malaysia, said the country currently has 17 agencies providing 170 social assistance programmes and over 70 agencies for skills training.
He added that 35 agencies have been tasked for SME digitalisation and over 30 agencies provide “investment promotion” services.
He said the fragmentation of government programmes “hurts the public purse” as such programmes are being paid for by taxpayers’ money.
“But economics aside, excessive fragmentation perpetuates inequality. For example, large firms have more resources and, hence, have more uptake of these programmes than SMEs,” he said on Twitter.
Most importantly, he said, the fragmentation hurts the common people.
“One in three households with an income of less than RM4,000 did not receive any government assistance during the pandemic era. One in five households that applied for assistance were turned down,” he said.
Apurva said Malaysia could emulate Argentina, which implements a “once only” principle where the government can only request pertinent documentation from citizens once.
If Argentinians submit a paper document, the receiving government agency must digitise it.
He said, for Malaysia, the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) is prioritising “GovTech” to address this issue.
“Malaysia had 180 SOPs at the start of the pandemic but this was eventually streamlined into just one. So it can be done.
“Let’s hope that it won’t take a global crisis to mobilise change. The journey to make public services lean and mean — I mean, lean and kind — continues,” he tweeted.