Signs that the ETP and GTP are failing?

(Also published on Malaysiakini)

Is the fall in Malaysia’s ranking in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report from 21 in 2011-12 to 25 in 2012-13 a reflection that the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and Government Transformation Programme (GTP) are not working?

The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) and its chief executive Idris Jala, have consistently used the findings from the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report to show that the ETP and the GTP are yielding positive fruits.

The fact that Malaysia’s ranking improved from 26 in 2011 to 21 in 2010 was featured prominently in the ETP’s Annual Report 2012.

The recently released 2012-13 WEF Global Competitiveness Report unfortunately shows Malaysia slipping down the ranks again. Malaysia’s ranking fell by four places, from 21 to 25, as a result of being overtaken by Korea, Luxembourg, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.

At the same time, Malaysia’s score fell slightly, from 5.08 in 2011 to 5.06 in 2012. This was reflected in the fact that out of the 148 indicators used by the WEF to compile this ranking, Malaysia experienced in fall in its ranking in 77 indicators, compared with a rise in its ranking in only 48 indicators. The country’s ranking in the remaining 23 indicators was unchanged.

There have been some noticeable improvements no doubt and Pemandu should be given some credit for this. For example, the number of procedures to start a business and the number of days to start a business have decreased from nine and 17 in 2011 to four and six respectively in 2012.

But there far more areas which fall under the purview of the ETP and the GTP, where Malaysia’s ranking has fallen.

Fall in fighting corruption

For example, under the “Wastefulness of government spending” indicator, which covers both the Fighting Corruption National Key Results Area (NKRA) as well as the Public Finance Reform Strategic Reform Initiative (SRI), Malaysia’s ranking fell from 12 to 19.

azlanUnder the “Business Costs of crime and violence” indicator, which falls under the Reducing Crime NKRA (an indicator which was highlighted in the GTP Annual Report 211), Malaysia’s ranking fell from 63 to 69. The “Organised Crime” indicator also showed Malaysia’s ranking falling from 54 to 60.

Malaysia’s “Overall Infrastructure” ranking fell by six places, from 26 to 32. More significantly, despite the efforts of the Improving Rural Basic Infrastructure (RBI) NKRA, Malaysia’s ranking in the “Quality of Roads” indicator fell by nine places, from 18 to 27.

Our “Macroeconomic environment” ranking fell from 35 to 26 and more worryingly, the “Government’s Budget Balance position” which falls under the Public Finance Reform Strategic Reform Initiative (SRI) fell by 14 spots, from 96 to 110.

Our ranking in the “Intensity of Local Competition” and the “Extent of Market Dominance” – both of which fall under the Competition, Standards and Liberalisation SRI – fell from 26 to 36 and from 14 to 19, despite the introduction of the Competition Act 2010.

Our “Labour Market Efficiency” ranking, which is under the Human Capital Development SRI, dropped by four places from 24 to 20. Our “Women in Labour Force, Ratio to Men” ranking, already at a worrying 114, fell further to 119.

Technological readiness ranking also falls

Lastly, our “ICT use” and our “Technological Readiness” rankings, which included some of the initiatives under the Communications, Content and Infrastructure (CCI) NKEA, fell from 57 to 68 and from 44 to 51 respectively.

azlanOur rankings in two important sub-indicators – “Broadband Internet Subscriptions” and “International Internet Bandwidth” – fell from 62 to 68 and from 60 to 83 (a whopping fall of 23 places) respectively.

The table below summarises the key areas involving the GTP and ETP that have experienced noticeable falls in Malaysia’s ranking.

Given Idris Jala’s promise that the ETP and the GTP should deliver ‘big, fast results’, he should explain why the ETP and GTP have not only failed to further improve Malaysia’s ranking in the WEF GCR 2012 but why Malaysia’s ranking fell by by four positions and caused partly by falls in rankings in indicators that are under the purview of the ETP and GTP.


DR ONG KIAN MING is DAP elections strategist.