Economic performance of Pakatan Harapan government in past year not doing too badly despite the prophets of gloom and doom as well as legacy problems of past administration

Despite the picture of gloom and doom painted by the advocates of klepto-theocracy as well as the legacy problems of the last administration, the economic performance of the Pakatan Harapan government in the past year had not been doing too badly.

The latest OECD 2019 Economic Survey of Malaysia released last week has this to say about the Malaysian economy:

“Malaysia’s economy is doing well, but social and governance challenges must be addressed.

“The new government prioritises inclusive growth and improving trust in public institutions.

“Further progress towards the planned target of high-income country status by 2024 will also require focusing on productivity growth with structural reforms to move up the value chain and improve skills.

“Ensuring environmental protection will improve the quality of growth.”

It forecasts growth is set to moderate in the near term, mainly due to slowing global trade.

It said:

“The rising cost of living has been a source of concern for large segments of the population.

“Progress could be made by providing a more targeted support, boosting entrepreneurship, improving productivity and employability among the low-income households.

“Fiscal policy needs reform. Building up fiscal space and ensuring medium-term sustainability will require increasing the low level of tax revenue.

“Improving budget process transparency and strengthening public debt management are key to fiscal accountability.

“Human capital development is needed to boost productivity and promote inclusive growth. Labour market imbalances hinder productivity and make it more difficult to climb up the value chain.

“Investment in education and training would help under-qualified workers. Policies to stimulate the demand for high-level skills would support those who are over-qualified.”

The Edelsmann Trust Global Barometer recently reported that public confidence in the government had risen to 60 in 2019 from 46 in 2018, he said.

The Asian Corporate Governance Association also put Malaysia’s position in the Corporate Governance Watch as rising three rungs from seventh place in 2016 to fourth place in 2018.

The Economist Intelligence Unit, meanwhile, reported that the 2019 Democratic Index had improved from 59 (2018) to 52, while the 2019 Media Freedom Index placed Malaysia on the first rung among South-East Asian countries being on 123rd rung out of 145 nations in the world, he said.

In the World Bank ease of doing business, Malaysia’s position had risen nine rungs from 24th in 2018 to 15th in 2019.

Despite these improved public perception on the seriousness of the government in tackling problems on corruption, integrity and governance, Pakatan Harapan Ministers and Deputy Ministers must not lose sight of the reality of widespread disappointment and disillusionment over the fulfilment of Pakatan Harapan General Election promises, which requires a major review of Pakatan Harapan Manifesto and the New Malaysia objective.

I am particularly drawn by the key recommendations of the OECD Economic Survey Malaysia 2019, as among them are the following:

· Lower the school starting age to at least 5 and make secondary schooling compulsory.
· Provide incentives and implement rotation schemes to attract more qualified and experienced teachers to disadvantaged schools.
· Continue efforts to reduce teacher administrative workload so that teachers can spend more time preparing lessons or participating in mentoring or professional development activities.
· Adopt a more student-centred teaching approach and put more emphasis on developing communicational skills.
· Tie guidance services closely to labour market information, and make training incentives more generous for programmes that develop in-demand skills.
· Increase the minimum maternity leave entitlement to at least 14 weeks, in line with international standards.
· Develop a co-financing arrangement for maternity leave, with the majority of the cost carried by the government.
· Invest in public childcare facilities and provide subsidies to private and workplace facilities.
· Consider adopting a more selective approach to the inflow of low-skilled foreign workers, while maintaining open policy for high skilled foreign workers

The Pakatan Harapan Government should set up a special committee to study OECD Economic Survey Malaysia 2019 and see what are the key recommendations which could be implemented.

(Media Statement by DAP MP Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah on Wednesday, 31st July 2019)

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