Improving productivity & competitiveness of delivery system

A Budget or a blueprint will only be as good as its execution. In the past decades, we have seen many ambitious plans announced by the Government. However, these projects have often ended at best, a qualified success without achieving its original objectives, such as the Multimedia Super Corridor project or at worse, an unmitigated failure such as the BioValley or the MSC e-Village.

In the past year, the administration has also launched several large-scale blueprints for various projects in Malaysia, including the Iskandar Developer Region (IDR), the Northern Economic Corridor as well as the East Coast Corridor. These efforts will all be in vain if they are not implemented with competence and integrity.

The focus of the budget has to be on substantially improving the competence and integrity of our civil service and delivery system to ensure that the benefits expected from Government initiatives will be enjoyed by all Malaysians.

Centralised Agency for Shared Expertise

DAP proposes the setting up of the Centralised Agency for Shared Expertise (CASE) department under the Ministry of Finance to consolidate common functions between the various Ministries.

CASE should aim to create synergies in the Government which will bring costs down and achieve greater efficiency through economies of scale, standardisation and streamlining of procedures. A successful implementation of CASE will help the Government reduce up to 20% of its annual operating expenditure on the common functions such as human resources and finance functions.

CASE can also serve as an opportunity for the top performers in the civil service to climb the career ladder, upgrade and apply their skills on a broader scale, with an enhanced customer-oriented culture when providing value-added services to Government agencies.

As this is a new department, only candidates with sufficient competence and integrity will be selected to lead the agency. If necessary, distinguished and proven personalities from the private sector will be head-hunted to join the agency. It will also at the same time, remove the “maverick elements” in the various ministries, removing the influence of the “little Napoleons”, corruption, inefficiency as well as abuse of power.

Civil Service Excellence Initiative

Malaysia has one of the highest ratios of government civil servants relative to its population at 4.68%. Even Japan, well known for its unwieldy civil service has a ratio of only 3.23. Others, including our neighbouring developing countries — Thailand (2.06), Korea (1.85), Philippines (1.81), Indonesia (1.79) – are all well below half the Malaysian ratio.

To prevent the country from becoming the butt of jokes such as “the number of Malaysians needed to change a light bulb?”, it is essential that efforts must be made to contain the expansion of our civil service as well as boosting their efficiency and productivity.

The bloated civil service has also become a substantial strain on the Government budget particularly with the recent wage revision, which increased budgeted emolument expenses from RM25.8 billion to RM33.8 billion or 27.9% of all operating expenditure. This amount hasn’t yet taken into account pensions and gratuities which cost the Government some RM7.0 billion a year.

DAP proposes that a Civil Service Excellence Initiative (CSEI) be developed by the newly set up Special Task Force on Service Delivery (Pemudah) which includes private sector representation to achieve a leaner and meaner civil service sector.

CSEI should aim to achieve headcount reductions through productivity improvements, job redesign or by re-prioritising functions. The CSEI should also develop plans on how non-performing staff may be procedurally retired from the service. In the process of retiring or reassigning job functions of the civil service, it must be mindful to ensure that it isn’t the performers which are retired from the civil service, leaving behind the less competent.

A critical component of CSEI will be to incorporate the “stick” element for the civil service after the “carrot” in the form of higher pay has been provided. In any organisation, private or public, the “stick” element is critical to ensure that workers will perform their tasks competently and efficiently, as well as to prevent a culture of doing the “minimum to get by”. A dynamic and forward-looking public service will have to be nurtured through high quality training and development.

Revitalising E-GovernmentTo improve customer satisfaction and investor confidence, we will need to develop a flexible and responsive government delivery system. As part of this programme, we should strive the seek the following objectivesl:

a. Make available government services via the Internet wherever possible,

b. Integrate e-services to make them more customer-centric for public access 24/7,

c. Improve accessibility of public services via the Internet and other digital channels through initiatives such as the Self-service Internet Terminals at government departments, particularly at the local town and city councils where the greatest amount of transactions takes place.

While the above initiatives are not new, Malaysia’s drive towards an e-government appears to have faltered in recent years as the global E-Government readiness ranking compiled by Waseda University showed that Malaysia has declined from 6th in 2004 to 14th in 2005 and 15th in 2006. A separate ranking prepared by Brown University which covered a broader range of countries placed Malaysia at 36th position in 2006.

It is hence critical that for Malaysia to move up the value chain in the face of competition from other developing countries, our drive to create a more effective and efficient government must not be compromised in the pursuit of excellence.

(Speech 15 on 2008 Budget in Parliament on Monday, September 10, 2007)

  1. #1 by AntiRacialDiscrimination on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 12:26 pm

    “Saya pun tak tau nak buat apa di sini, kerja tak banyak, tiap-tiap hari masuk tengok Youtube dan tunggu gaji sahaja. Tapi kerajaan kita memang baguslah, tak ada kerja pun ambil kita masuk sini.”

    That was what I overheard from a new civil servant talking to her friend the other day.

    I wonder whether our civil service has already become the dumping ground for unemployed graduates.

  2. #2 by UFOne on Friday, 14 September 2007 - 9:22 pm

    When one reaches a certain rank in the government service, one begins to discover that it is not enough to be a good worker. One has to have a political mind. Yes. Office politics. Meaning if you play the game well, your future will be very bright. You can compare a decent good worker and a lazy bad worker who knows her way around and you find that it is the lazy bad worker who gets everything. But will the top management know ? Will they do anything ? Does the Prime Minister know ? Does he get carried away by all the patriotic songs ? We slap our own faces every second of the day. We cheat others with our patriotic songs and our preachings but in reality we are far from the image we successfully conjure up in other people’s minds. There is actually no transparency. There is actually no integrity. There is actually no fairness. There is actually no honesty. So what if the management has taken courses after courses and attended meetings after meetings but in the end it is all cheap holiday on government’s money. You talk about wasting. That is an example of how money is wasted, how human capital is wasted and how time is wasted. And now with the focus on money, all the more the bad lazy workers will have an even brighter future.

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