THE public congratulate Chief Secretary Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa for setting up a committee to monitor the implementation of programmes and projects under Budget 2018.
We would also welcome the inclusion of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on this monitoring committee to combat corruption and leakages like the wastage of budget allocations. But there are many questions to ask about the roles of this committee.
1. Will this committee only monitor the implementation of the Budget 2018 projects and programmes? Should it not be clearly stated that this committee should be a permanent monitoring committee to oversee the implementation of all budget projects and programmes in the future?
2. Would this implementation committee also monitor the physical maintenance of past projects? As we all notice, many government offices, facilities and programmes have been relatively neglected. Maintenance in many government buildings have become inefficient, leaving some unsafe. Will this implementation committee review and monitor the maintenance of government buildings?
3. Will the committee ensure that previously approved policies and programmes would also be monitored to ensure that delivery is done according to the original goals set for them? Or have they gone off the track and are still being funded every year without too much scrutiny? The Chief Secretary and the Civil Service will gain more support if this issue is clearly made known to the public.
4. While the implementation of budget projects can be monitored for effective and timely completion, what about the monitoring of the quality of service these projects provide to the public? Can the implementation committee also monitor the quality of service and report back to the public?
5. The public has gradually become conditioned to accepting poor quality service in some government departments and offices. The public often take poor government services as a given. Unlike in the business sector, the public cannot avoid doing business with inefficient civil servants especially those who issue licences, permits, tax concessions and exemptions. Passports are now provided so much faster (pic) but can the same be said of many other government services?
6. As we are aiming to become a developed country by 2020, is it not timely to establish the post of ombudsman? The Chief Secretary’s new implementation committee could start even before the year’s end with its pioneering and laudable mission to monitor implementation. But could the Government appoint an ombudsman and approve staff for his office to receive and independently advise the implementation committee and Parliament on all public complaints? This move will serve the public interest in a more balanced, efficient and empathetic manner and earn much more public appreciation.
The rakyat will warmly welcome the innovative initiative by the Chief Secretary to set up this new implementation committee comprising some of the top officials in our country.
Public expectations for less corruption and expenditure wastages will now rise considerably. We will now hope for faster and more efficient services to the public. This desire for better quality in government services will also be raised by the realisation that the Government has been generous in providing civil servants with more rewards for their loyal service to our beloved country.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Asli Center for Public Policy Studies