Wednesday, December 6

Good policies and effective execution go together


What the Chinese press say

THE new fuel subsidy mechanism will be implemented next year, according to Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah With this new mechanism, the government will categorise consumers into three groups based on monthly income.

Those earning over RM10,000 will no longer enjoy subsidised fuel while those with a monthly income between RM5,000 to RM10,000 will have partial allowance. The full beneficiaries are wage earners taking home below RM5,000 a month.

The Minister, however, did not specify the percentage of fuel subsidy entitled to those raking in a monthly income of RM5,000 to RM10,000. He only said the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK) was still “exploring the whole mechanism.” There are now three different prices for RON95 petrol – non-subsidised, partially subsidised price and fully subsidised.

At first glance, it’s fair for the higher income group to pay more and the lower income group to pay less. But in reality, when the mechanism is implemented, the government may have a daunting task trying to prevent abuse of the mechanism that could well lead to syndicates capitalising on the loopholes to turn the system into a cash cow. Apparently, no lesson has been taken from past abuse of the subsidy mechanism for diesel.

In theory, the new fuel subsidy scheme is a fairly good programme but the question is how large will the budget be to oversee its overall implementation, especially if the programme has to be strictly enforced to ensure the widest possible compliance. Moreover, how much fuel subsidy should be allocated to consumers every month? What if consumers have left-over fuel? Can they sell it at a cheaper price to their friends?

What about housewives? Shouldn’t they enjoy fully subsidised fuel? What about retired tycoons? Should they get fully subsidised fuel too?

The BR1M programme which has received numerous complaints for inequitable distribution in a lot of cases is a good example.

Sure, the subsidy mechanism should be able to save expenses but if a huge amount is spent on implementing and monitoring the mechanism, ultimately rendering it an exercise in futility, then why start it in the first place?

Usually, the biggest problem is seen during the formulation of a policy when the pivot gets shifted by political argy bargy on the distribution of benefits and other minor but over-blown distractions – without much focus on the effectiveness of the policy itself.

In any policy implementation, the main object should be to ensure it’s successfully executed and fulfilled. This should be the salient consideration. When the government implements a policy, the ability to carry out, monitor and follow up on the policy should be taken account to attain the desired objectives.

Over the years, the policies implemented by the government have encountered recurring problems – all due to lack of efficient execution.

On Aug 9, 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia and after nearly half a century of development, there appears to a considerable gap in various economic fields between the two countries – and one key difference between us and them lies in the execution of policies. Unfortunately, this glaring problem is often ignored.

To be frank, we have come up with some pretty good policies – all very nice to hear and see – but when it comes to implementation, it’s a different story altogether.

Good policies are often proposed and enacted but because of the lack of efficient execution, they frequently prove disappointing and frustrating for the people.

No matter how great the ideas and policies, without a strong and visionary executive to translate them into concrete action, then there isn’t much meaning to them at all. Enactment of good policies needs to be complemented by good execution. Action speaks louder than words. (From Oriental Daily).