10MP fails to impress economists
SAT, 12 JUN 2010 12:28
By Stephanie Sta Maria
KUALA LUMPUR: The 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) yesterday came under scrutiny of three economists who lauded its acknowledgment of the country's stumbling blocks but lamented its initiatives to tackle them.
At a dialogue jointly organised by the Malaysian Economic Association and the Faculty of Economics and Administration, Universiti Malaya, the trio cited a few initiatives that have set off alarm bells in their heads.
DAP chief economist, Tony Pua, called the plan “tired” and noted that it contains many similarities to past plans. His main concern, however, lay with the “shadow” of the New Economic Policy (NEP) which he said is cast over the 10MP.
“The NEP characteristic in the 10MP is the 30% Bumiputera quota, which, in fact, was left out of the New Economic Model (NEM),” he said. “The problem is not the quota itself but the danger that such a quota would prevent this community from moving ahead because it doesn't distinguish between the rich and poor Bumiputera.”
“If a needs-basis is used instead, then all poor Bumiputera are assured of assistance. But when you dilute it with a specific quota for one race, the better-off of the race (Bumiputeras) are able to get a larger chunk of government benefits."
The PJ Utara MP noted that this contradiction also extends to the NEM in terms of the government's move to increase competitiveness, meritocracy, transparency and getting value for money from government projects.
He questioned whether a project will now be awarded based on the above-mentioned criteria or on fulfilling the 30% Bumiputera quota.
“This is a major dilemma that will play out throughout the next five years and affect out economic performance,” he said. “I see the 10MP mirroring the model of the late 1980s where many mega projects were launched which ultimately had to be bailed out by the government.”
“If we repeat the same cycle without implementing measures to ensure we get the best value for money from these projects, then we may face another crisis and this time the government may not have enough funds for a bailout. I've seen many mega projects and subsidies being awarded to big corporations this year and I don't see the change that the NEM is calling for. ”
“Our problem now is two-pronged. The first is implementing everything in the 10MP and the second is having the political will to enforce those changes. At this point, I'm worried that the latter is missing and I hope to be proven wrong for Malaysia's sake.”
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