(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin said yesterday that the 2001 Budget he would present to Parliament on Friday would offer a "little" good news for the man in the street.
What is more important is that the 2001 Budget should address three critical issues to Malaysia’s economic and national well-being not only in the first decade of the new millennium but the future as well.
These three critical issues are:
(1) Restore and enhance’s Malaysia global competitiveness
For more than a month, the government has acted like an ostrich with its head in the sand with regard to the 2000 global competitiveness ranking by Swiss-based World Economic Forum (WEF) showing a catastrophic collapse in Malaysia’s international competitiveness rating, falling by nine notches in the past year or 16 places in the past three years.
Malaysia slipped to 25th position from 16th last year, a fall of nine notches. Since 1997, when Malaysia was ranked in the 9th position, the country’s international competitiveness ranking had fallen disastrously by 16 places.
Malaysia, with all the hype about the Multimedia Super Corridor, should have fared better in the rating as the 2000 competitiveness rating attached significantly greater weight than before to technology as a key driver of sustained economic growth.
Or as the WEF president, Professor Klaus Schwab had explained:
(2) Salvage Malaysia’s international reputation on corruption
Last month, Malaysia plunged from 32nd to 36th position in the Transparency International’s 2000 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) - continuing Malaysia’s annual freefall in the international corruption ranking since its first introduction in 1995, except for one year.
Malaysia was placed 23rd in 1995, 26th place in 1996, and 32nd in 1997, 29th in 1998, 32nd in 1999 and 36th in 2000. It is noteworthy that the only time when there was an improvement in Malaysia’s ranking in the international Corruption Perception Index as compared to the previous year was for the year 1998, largely because of the anti-corruption campaign led by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim the previous year.
(3) Prepare Malaysia for the challenges of globalisation
One of the most crucial factors determining whether a country is ready
to face the challenges of globalisation is whether it is a quality state
run by a government with institutions and laws and rules that foreign and
local investors can trust. No country can succeed in globalisation
with a rotten judiciary, a corrupt government or lack of good institutions
whether the result of systematic erosion, subversion or other factors.
This is why it is a sad commentary on the deterioration of good governance
and the development of a good quality state in Malaysia that such blatant
discriminatory actions like the hijacking of the Teregganu state oil royalty
by the Federal government has not been debated in Parliament yet.