KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — Putrajaya’s efficiency unit is “shifting the goalposts” to hide its failure to transform the economy since launching its ambitious Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) in October 2010, says the Research for Social Advancement (REFSA) think-tank.
The opposition-linked think-tank, which has published a series of critiques on the ETP that aims to double per capita income by 2020, said in a focus paper released today that the Performance Management and Delivery Unit’s (PEMANDU) gross national income (GNI) targets were lower than those set by the government.
REFSA noted that after the Finance Ministry (MoF) released the national income figure of RM830 billion for 2011, PEMANDU claimed the RM797 billion target had been exceeded. The unit under the Prime Minister’s Office is tasked with executing various transformation plans,
“Where did this RM797 billion target come from? It was not stated in the ETP Roadmap launched in Oct 2010. The MoF had already projected RM811 billion GNI for 2011, before the ETP Roadmap was launched.
“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.
The paper, authored by political analyst Ong Kian Ming and Teh Chi Chang, who was previously economic adviser to the DAP, added that PEMANDU’s target was equivalent to just 7.8 per cent nominal growth, lower than its own 8.8 per cent average annual growth target to achieve high-income status.
“PEMANDU might have exceeded its ‘target’ but what value did it deliver? The MoF was already projecting GNI higher than PEMANDU’s... even without the benefit of the ETP,” they wrote.
They 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.
PEMANDU has previously insisted that the ETP was developed accurately despite assertions by the think-tank that the government agency’s figures do not add up.
“We stand by the fact that the ETP Roadmap was developed with thought and input from a wide base of expertise and as the intention is to make Malaysia globally competitive, international benchmarks were used,” it said in a blog posting in February.
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.