Ta­per­ing our Bud­get ex­pec­ta­tions

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

T Obe sure, the Bud­get can­not pos­si­bly meet ev­ery ex­pec­ta­tion of ev­ery sec­tor of the stake­hold­ers. It is im­por­tant to bear in mind that the na­tional cof­fers was not at op­ti­mum level.

While the new gov­ern­ment needed to gen­er­ate enough rev­enue from sources that have the ca­pac­ity to pay, it is also im­por­tant to en­sure that it re­flects a shared bur­den.

Malaysia has, in the past, gone through tough times dur­ing the var­i­ous ex­ter­nally trig­gered eco­nomic crises.

This time there were weak­nesses in do­mes­tic gov­er­nance that has ex­ac­er­bated the sit­u­a­tion.

One year’s an­nual Bud­get sim­ply can­not be ex­pected to pro­vide the nec­es­sary reme­dies for a decade’s ero­sion of the econ­omy and abuse of au­thor­ity. In ad­di­tion, the volatil­ity and un­cer­tain­ties in the ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment need to be taken into ac­count mov­ing for­ward.

How­ever, the Pakatan Hara­pan gov­ern­ment has taken coura­geous steps mov­ing for­ward in mend­ing the econ­omy while at the same time hav­ing to deal with the prob­lems at hand, which is the “le­gacy” of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment.

It is hoped that the re­vi­tal­is­ing of the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor part­ner­ship in the Malaysia In­cor­po­rated Strat­egy will see the busi­ness sec­tor across the board ef­fec­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing in the eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment of Malaysia.

One very im­por­tant ele­ment to take into ac­count is the ex­tent to which the gov­ern­ment can “in­ter­vene” in the de­ci­sion mak­ing process of the pri­vate sec­tor, in­clud­ing that in gov­ern­ment-linked com­pa­nies (GLCs).

In­ter­ven­tion can be ac­cept­able only within the con­text of pro­vid­ing guid­ance that is in line with the over­all so­cio-eco­nomic pol­icy ob­jec­tives of the na­tion.

The gov­ern­ment should re­frain from de­ter­min­ing costs and pric­ing, un­less it is with the spe­cific in­ten­tion to sub­sidise the busi­ness (such as that un­der­taken by a GLC).

A busi­ness is a busi­ness, re­gard­less of whether it is run by the pub­lic or pri­vate sec­tor.

Mar­ket forces must pre­vail. Not po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ence.

And it should not be the busi­ness of the gov­ern­ment and politi­cians to dic­tate how any busi­ness should be run. There are so many fac­tors in the equa­tion.

Some are mar­ket im­per­a­tives and in the main busi­ness has to do with cost and rev­enue. En­tre­pre­neur­ial wis­dom and acu­men will be the best judge as to what de­ci­sions to take.

I was the min­is­ter for pub­lic en­ter­prises for seven long years. I ended up clos­ing down many of the 900-odd “gov­ern­ment” busi­nesses. In fact, even­tu­ally the whole min­istry was re­vamped and re­named Min­istry for En­tre­pre­neur De­vel­op­ment.

The en­tire sys­tem can be at risk when the gov­ern­ment vi­car­i­ously “con­trols” busi­ness de­ci­sions and con­strains de­ci­sion mak­ers in the busi­ness sec­tor from mak­ing log­i­cal de­ci­sions based upon mar­ket im­per­a­tives.

Malaysia’s eco­nomic fun­da­men­tals are strong. The rakyat is united in re­al­is­ing a new era for Malaysia.

The gov­ern­ment is clearly com­mit­ted to serv­ing the rakyat and mov­ing the na­tion suc­cess­fully for­ward.

May Bud­get 2019 al­low us all to take those brave steps for­ward to­wards our na­tional goals to be a de­vel­oped na­tion with a re­spon­si­ble and ac­count­able gov­ern­ment, and a peo­ple with pos­i­tive and for­ward look­ing mind­sets. Se­jahtera Malaysia kita.

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