AFTER chairing the Bumiputra Economic Council (MEB), the Prime Minister proudly announced that 23 ministries have at least reached 90% of their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and eight attained 100% of their performance targets.
This achievement is impressive and laudable indeed. But it begs the question as to how many of these bumiputra target groups really benefitted from these vast expenditures.
It’s good to spend public funds to empower bumi businessmen and women but are there leakages like corruption and wastage of public funds and sub-contracting?
More importantly, are these taxpayers’ funds actually equipping bumi contractors with the right skills, capabilities and real experience in sustaining the bumi business progress?
A large chunk (63%) of the value of the annual works of ministries and Government agencies was awarded to bumi contractors. This is a significant size of Government Budget funding and it is hoped that the bumi contractors did not sub-contract or rent too much out to others.
It is therefore proposed that our Government needs to monitor these sub-contracts to especially foreigners, who will then benefit more than the bumi contractors. They would take away their experience and acquired expertise back to their own countries. Then our bumi contractors would not have gained as much knowledge and skills as they should in obtaining these small and especially large contracts. Hopefully, the bumi contractors are competent and capable, otherwise the public suffer from wastage and poor performance of projects and services.
The bumi cooperatives also benefitted from a large cumulative turnover of RM31bil. Hopefully, these huge funds were efficiently managed to enhance the welfare of the needy cooperatives and especially the low-income cooperative members .
More affordable houses were built in 2016 for bumis. About 3,476 were built last year as compared to only 213 units in 2015. This is most welcome although much more could be done in this vital area of high demand for low-cost housing. The Industrial Building System (IBS) can accelerate the building of affordable housing and the Government should step up the building of affordable housing through the IBS.
Housing is a basic need and comprises a large share of consumer spending in rentals and meeting housing loan instalments. Greater priority could therefore be given to build affordable housing for all Malaysians.
The SL1M or 1 Malaysia Training Scheme is most useful for training bumis to find suitable employment. With thousands of bumi and other graduates left unemployed, SL1M’s role to train them to find suitable jobs, especially in the fields of technology and the service industries, is worthy of all our support. But it begs the question as to why the public universities seem to be producing so many unemployable graduates. The private universities do not have similar problems. Hence, it might be pertinent to review the curriculum and medium of instruction in many of our universities to ensure that we are not churning out more unemployable graduates. This issue needs to be addressed soon as these unemployed graduates can pose social problems, cause social tensions and even instability.
The Bumiputra Economic Empowerment (PEB) programme is a pillar of our overall socio-economic development planning and the foundation of the 11th Malaysia Development Plan. The PEB has to be pursued energetically to achieve its KPIs.
But we have to, at the same time, ensure that the enormous funds that are generously provided by the Government for bumi enhancement are efficiently and effectively utilised to benefit the bumiputra positively.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Asli’s Centre for Public Policy Studies