WITH a trillion ringgit of debt staring at us, every sen counts.
It comes as no surprise then that some “non-essential” agencies would be dissolved, but this is just the beginning.
Those slated to be dissolved include the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), the National Professors Council (MPN), the Residents’ Representatives Committee (JPP), the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation, the Special Affairs Department (Jasa), the Performance Management and Delivery Unit, the National Innovation Agency and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday said that Jasa, MPN and JPP were set up to serve political interest and would be disbanded.
All this comes as ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan reviews all contracts and eliminates wastage in the government. It wants the Government to be lean, efficient and trustworthy, and when it starts to examine the roles of these agencies, there would be without a doubt a lot of overlap in functions. In this day and age with the likes of the Internet, WhatsApp, smartphones and a much freer and open press, the previous type of propaganda is no longer viable.
The duties of SPAD were previously handled by the Transport Ministry (MOT). By removing that responsibility from the MOT by creating SPAD and putting it under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), it just created another layer at an extra cost.
SPAD’s duties can easily be carried out by the MOT, but the agency took over certain policy decision-making aspects from the MOT. Perhaps, it also opened avenues for patronage, wastage and possibly even corruption.
It is not to say that SPAD did not do its job. It had intelligent people helming it and they oversaw the construction and planning of some of the large infrastructure projects that were rolled out in recent years. But the simple fact is that the role of policy and decision-making could have easily been carried out by the MOT, which is directly answerable to Parliament, as opposed to agencies like SPAD whose oversight rests with the PMO.
It is also shocking to learn that the country’s debts stand at a whopping RM1 trillion. This has put a huge strain on government coffers. It is good that the Cabinet is willing to take a 10% paycut to save cost, and all the disbanding of the non-essential agencies is part of a rationalisation exercise to reduce the cost and size of the government. The government needs to avoid wastage and surplus, and be efficient, accountable and transparent.
The disbanding of the agencies has also given rise to talk in the marketplace that several other agencies would be axed. On the social media networks yesterday, there were suggestions that the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) should be next.
One of the reasons why agencies like SPAD and Mavcom should not have been formed is because they oversee a particular sector of the economy which was previously handled very efficiently by the MOT. Since they were founded, the MOT’s role became limited and it lost the ability to earn fees from licensing.
The creation of Mavcom also clashed with the role of the Malaysia Competition Commission in terms of the rules of fair play and consumer protection, although the MOT is capable of protecting the small person’s interest and that of businesses.
What is more alarming is that since May 1, Mavcom has begun charging air passengers RM1 to fund its operations. That in itself adds another layer of cost for air travellers.
It is good that travellers can fly and go on holidays, but they don’t deserve to pay more than the passenger service charges. Making them pay RM1 more is semblance to squeezing the travellers even though they might have the ability to travel.
It is just not right to sustain operations by forcing travellers to foot their upkeep when every ringgit counts. The MOT did not do that in the past. So, it is really up to the new minister, Anthony Loke, to review and decide what is best for commuters and travellers.
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