Promise

Enhance the Transparency and Integrity of the Budget and Budgeting Process

ANALYSIS

In October 2018, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has announced that the government is committed to a shift from cash-based accounting standards to accrual accounting standards by 2021 to ensure greater transparency in public finance reporting. This move was reiterated by the Finance Minister in April 2019. In March 2019, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin stated that these steps have to be taken to ensure transparency in budgeting process:

1)     A mid-year budget review should be conducted;

2)     Criteria for off-budget allocation should be scrutinised;

3)     Public money spent must be promptly recorded and carefully monitored in accordance with established financial procedures.

We note that reforms in this area of governance are encouraging. To strengthen the existing efforts to enhance transparency and integrity of the budget and budgeting process, we recommend that the government also include participatory budgeting. Only with the participation of society in the budgeting process can we can we truly enhance transparency in the country’s governance.

Sub-promises

Implement a more responsible budget
National Statistics Department to publish important socio-economic data regularly

29 August 2019“I often ask myself as to whether we want to hear the truth. We often “sugar coat” the reality. When VIPs and government ministers visit hospitals there is often a frantic “clean-up and touch-up” (wasted money) with a good front presented to suggest “no major problems”. I call these “potted plant visits” – putting out our nice plants for the VIP to view. Governments always want to hide or neglect the truth, which is the very antithesis of governing.”

C4 – It is time for the government to face the sad state of care government hospitals that our children receive. There is an urgent need for a more transparent and truthful reporting within government agencies without fear or favour. The truth is painful or embarrassing, but it needs to be uncovered without which more Malaysians will suffer, and we will fail those most vulnerable within our country.

27 August 2019 – The prime minister’s economic adviser Muhammed Abdul Khalid  said it is a fact that the Economic Affairs Ministry’s (MEA) yardstick for poverty was outdated. “We shouldn’t feel embarrassed if a new yardstick shows high poverty rates. That is a fact. To resolve this problem, we should accept reality. Only then can a solution be conceived,” said Muhammed in a commentary published in Sinar Harian today.  The former Khazanah Research Institute director said although the poverty line income (PLI) had reduced from 50 percent since 1957, an absolute measure of poverty can no longer be used. 

C4 – C4 Center welcomes Muhammed Abdul Khalid’s response on the UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty report. There is a great urgency for the Malaysian Poverty line to be reassessed as it needs to reflect current harsh economic realities that Malaysians are facing especially the poor. Once corrected this would give an accurate baselines for policymakers to more precise economic policies. The times of sugar coating data to calm the masses is over and the government needs to grow up and face the hardship that the rakyat face head on. Hopefully his comment and the UN Rapporteur’s report would burst the bubble that our policymakers and politicians are in, especially from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Affairs, on the realities that Malaysians are facing.

23 August 2019 – Malaysia lays claim to the world’s lowest national poverty rate by using an unduly low poverty line that does not reflect the cost of living and by excluding vulnerable populations from its official figures, said UN human rights expert Philip Alston at the end of a mission to the country. “While Malaysia has achieved undeniably impressive growth in reducing poverty in the last 50 years, the official claim that poverty has been eradicated, or exists merely in small pockets in rural areas, is incorrect and has crippled policymaking,” said Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, presenting a report as his 11-day visit ended.

C4 – The UN Special Rapporteur report on Malaysia has revealed that the Malaysian government have been using inaccurate measurements for poverty which might have lead to imprecise policies to help the poor in the nation. This is a disappointing and embarrassing development as brings the accuracy of the socio-economic data being used by policy makers into question. Hopefully, this report will garner a response from the administration and corrective measures will be put into place.  

To form a panel of experts to assure the veracity of the data

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