PEMANDU defends targets, says using World Bank numbers as benchmark
KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) has defended its gross national income (GNI) targets despite being lower than those set by the Finance Ministry (MoF), insisting it used World Bank figures as its “true north”.
Putrajaya’s efficiency unit said that it used the global financial institution’s projection of global economic growth and definition of a high-income nation, which is the target of its ambitious Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), to derive a target GNI of US$523 billion (RM1.674 trillion) by 2020.
“Using a linear approach from 2009 GNI (US$188 billion) to 2020 GNI, we concluded that 2011 GNI would need to be US$218.5 billion, or about RM797 billion assuming an exchange rate of US$1:RM3.20,” it said in a response to a scathing critique by the Research for Social Advancement (REFSA).
The opposition-linked think-tank had accused PEMANDU in a report yesterday of “shifting the goalposts” to hide its failure to transform the economy since the ETP was launched in October 2010, pointing out that the 2011 GNI target was lower than the MoF’s RM811 billion.
“PEMANDU’s so-called ‘target’ is underwhelming. Taken at face value, PEMANDU is dragging down the Malaysian economy instead of transforming it. How else would you explain PEMANDU’s target for GNI being smaller than the forecast made by the MoF?,” REFSA said.
It added that while nominal GNI growth hit 12.3 per cent in 2011, this was due to the 7.6 per cent hike in prices under its “GNI deflator” which incorporates all goods instead of a basket of goods which includes price-controlled items.
“The ETP has failed when measured by real GNI growth. Real GNI grew by just 4.7 per cent in 2011 compared to the six per cent per year target cited in the ETP Roadmap Report,” it said.
But PEMANDU said in its response sent to The Malaysian Insider that there is a “difference between a target and a forecast.”
“MoF bases its forecast on a great number of variables (e.g. historic data, economic indicators both domestic and global and internal targets). Based on these variables, MoF publishes its forecast, which is an expectation of results based on indicators.
“The ETP has a set target of US$523 billion in 2020. As mentioned, by working backwards, we can determine on a yearly target that we aim to meet or surpass in order to assess the validity of our actions.
“The MoF forecast looks forward on a yearly basis and is updated quarterly. They do not have an end-point goal in mind. For this reason, we cannot not use the same method to project forward 10 years,” it said.
The REFSA paper also accused PEMANDU chief executive Datuk Seri Idris Jala of “intellectual dishonesty” by taking credit for the 7.2 per cent gross domestic product growth in 2010.
“PEMANDU steals credit when none is due. Idris cited 2010 economic numbers as part of his achievements but the ETP was launched only in late October 2010,” said the paper, referring to the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
But PEMANDU accused the DAP-run centre of “not allowing for fair and reasonable discourse,” saying that “an ongoing debate with them would ultimately be pointless.”
“(Former British Prime Minister) Winston Churchill wrote that ‘a fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.’ We have engaged with the REFSA Institute on a number of occasions over the course of the last five months. All these efforts have come to naught,” it said.
The unit was set up after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak took office in April 2009. On Monday, he announced 21 new projects worth over RM20 billion under the ETP, that was expected to boost the GNI by RM4.59 billion in 2020 and create 39,918 jobs.