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Election Watch

Business: We can do better to boost efficiency

Source: The New Straits Times
Date: 21 October 2011

WE must congratulate the government and the civil service for moving up five positions to 18, out of a list of 183 countries, in the World Bank's 2012 Report on Doing Business (NST, Oct 20).

This is commendable and we must give credit to the Special Taskforce to Facilitate Business (Pemudah), under co-chairmen Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, who is also chief secretary to the government, and Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon, for its dedication to promoting efficiency in the public service.

But, as Sidek said: "There is still a lot of work to do." 

In other words, this must not be a flash in the pan. It must be sustained to ensure that our competitiveness improves.

For this to happen, there must be more structural changes in the public administration. 

While electronic filing can raise our scores, the quality of the civil service must be strengthened.

This can be achieved through the recruitment of better qualified staff, the removal of Little Napoleons, the reduction of political interference in implementation and the increase in the professionalism and pride in the civil service.

It is also important to raise the integrity, productivity and terms and conditions of civil servants to make them more competitive with the private sector. 

Performers should be rewarded and laggards should be phased out.

The call for the private sector to reduce bureaucracy and improve its efficiency is also valid. 

If our businessmen are less competitive globally, the country will also suffer from low growth.

If a business is not competitive, it will lose money and may have to close down. Unfortunately, civil servants are not subject to this market discipline, where they would have to sink or swim.

Hence, the government will have to monitor its political and civil service performance more seriously if it wants to gain more support.

The government can also help the private sector become more efficient by reducing the protection of monopolistic practices and introducing more liberal and competitive policies and practices. 

Perhaps the newly-established Competition Commission will help businesses and government-linked companies become more competitive.

The higher World Bank placing should give us more confidence to compare ourselves to countries that consistently score higher than us. 

We should strive to excel in the spirit of Malaysia Boleh.

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