Themalaysianisnider.com reported today that Petronas is paying 6 Billion to the government as a special dividend this year… which is good news.
This 6 Billion is a lot of money and I hope the government can spend wisely and not waste it on unneccessary projects. The perception among the general population is that government projects are now formulated not with the rakyat in mind but rather to suit certain private interest. Whether such perception is true or not, I leave it to you to judge…
Nevertheless, to overcome this perception, there is only one way. Open up the bidding of the projects to all people, via the system of calling for open tender. The whole process of awarding tender should be made transparent. Genuine partnership companies consisting of all races can be given certain advantages, but the main criterai must be the pricing and the skill levels involved.
One of the most urgent area is the public transport sector. Mass transit should be extended to more areas; bus services must be improved; inner city trams/bus may be considered where people can hop in and out for free rides, preferably circuiting from certain mass transit stations in inner city to areas not serve by the mass transit.
Urban poor must be given more help. Discount cards to the urban poor for them to buy the necessity (rice, sugar, milk, cooking oil, flour) at a discount should be considered. Such cards can be subsidised by the government ( and the amount of subsidy per person can be worked out according to needs), which can pick up the discount via monthly rebates to those companies that accept the discount cards. The issuing of such cards must of course be done by proper evaluation of the person’s financial background , and again transparency and accountability must be practised in such a system.
One of the main expense items of our government is the civil service. There are just too many civil servants doing redundant jobs in our country.. Trim the service and channel some of the redundant staff to the private sectors by laying down more stringent requirements for the recruitment of foreign workers. There are now just too many foreign workers in the country, and their jobs can easily be taken over by the lower rung members of our civil service. Billions can be safe and channeled to social causes, just by trimming the civil service by 10 per cent. The government can in fact give incentives to companies initially for employing civil servants that opt out of the service voluntarily.
I am sure the civil service can easily cope with a 10 per cent retrenchment through some sort of VSS scheme, if the rest of the civil servants can just buck up and be more productive. We can do this gradually over a few years.
There will be a lot of obstacles in carrying out this; we need steely resolve to see this through. If there is a will, there is certainly a way to do this… Do we have the will? That is often the most crucial question.
For the long term competitiveness of the country, we really need a more productive and efficient civil service and we have to do away with the dependence on foreign workers, as is the case now.
Footnote: Itis often said that for every US $1 increase in world petrol price, Petronas gains an extra 250 millions ringgits. The petrol price for the past few years has gone up from US$30 per barrel until US$145 now. How much more is Petronas earning?? Standard 5 mathematics.