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27 June 2009
The Star

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers immediate past president and Pemudah co-chair Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon

How do you describe the importance of public service delivery (PSD) to your industry and to Malaysia’s competitiveness?
PSD is an important determinant of Malaysia’s competitiveness because it impacts almost alaspects of doing business. Of the 12 indices tracked by the World Bank in the Doing Business report, five are directly related to the services rendered by the civil service. Another three are determined in part by both the private and public sectors. The remaining four fall under the purview of the judiciary or the private sector.

However, it is not only the efficiency of the service delivery that affects our country’s competitiveness. Often, it is also whether some of our rules and regulations are unnecessarily cumbersome, intrusive and bureaucratic, and have long passed their shelf life in this globalised environment. It is for the above reasons that Pemudah was established, primarily to look into ways to further improve the delivery of public services and Malaysia’s global competitiveness. It aims to be a catalyst in moving Malaysia into the top 10 in the Doing Business Index.

What do you think of the rate and nature of improvements in PSD in recent years?
PSD has improved in general, with significant improvements in some areas as opposed to others. The improvements in the operating environment of business have been significant as reflected in the improved global ratings for Malaysia in recent years. While Pemudah works at improving Malaysia’s ranking, we are constantly reminded that it is a never-ending race. Other economies are working equally hard to improving their rankings.

The improvements have been largely focused on the operating environment of business – tax administration, immigration, e-payment, registration of property, trade facilitation and the like. Many other initiatives are in the pipeline, involving policy changes that will improve the investment climate and the way business is conducted. These include those related to the Foreign Investment Committee and the Distributive Trade Guidelines and Competition Act. There are also efforts on delivery of public services to citizens.

What should be priorities in improving PSD?
The priorities are largely determined by our needs as a nation. Currently, we are focused on how to move Malaysia from an economy caught in the ranks of a middle-income nation for many years now, to the ranks of a high-income economy. To take us there, we need to attract substantial inflows of investment into the targeted activities/sectors, including services. Malaysia has to remain attractive to the investment community. It must be easy to do business. Policies and rules must be predictable. We have to be transparent and investor-friendly. Approvals and licensing must be timely, and the costs of doing business comparable to those of competing economies.

In short, PSD must continue to improve the operating environment for businesses so that the private sector can continue to generate economic activities and employment necessary to sustain economic growth at levels that can improve the quality of life of Malaysians.

PSD should also address the growing needs of citizens, particularly in the provision of quality public education. Higher incomes wilnot come by just wishing for it or by just raising wages all round. We have to start with the building blocks, and one of the important ones is quality education and training.

What can the private sector do to improve PSD in Malaysia?
The private sector will also continue to work in partnership with government through Pemudah and other platforms to jointly resolve issues that can improve the way the public sector delivers its services to the business sector. Likewise, the public sector often reminds the private sector that it should also improve its service delivery in various areas. Although facing cynicism about the potential outcome of public-private sector collaboration, the private sector is pleased with the progress achieved thus far. Many new initiatives have come from the public sector and have been implemented.

Taking the cue from the prime minister’s call for “cross-fertilisation” between the public and private sectors, a programme is being drawn up that will see the exchange of expertise between the two sectors in the near future.

Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Irene Dorner

How do you describe the importance of PSD to commerce and industry in Malaysia, and to Malaysia’s competitiveness?
The public service’s performance and its ability to deliver fast, efficient and customer-centric services to the public and the business community are fundamentato Malaysia’s competitiveness.

The global scenario is one of accelerated activity, and the attractiveness of any country to investors is impacted hugely by the speed and responsiveness of the public sector. The effectiveness of the public delivery system can either be a positive factor in business operations or a constant source of frustration.

What do you think of the rate and nature of improvements in the PSD in recent years?
Through the Malaysia Inc system, the private sector has had unrivalled access to the public sector in terms of dialogue and discussion. However, accessibility has not always led to action in certain ministries and agencies, while others have been exemplary in their responsiveness to business needs. With the emergence of Pemudah, the capacity for consultation has been retained and accompanied by significant improvement in visible action.

What should be priorities in improving PSD?
Ministries and agencies should continue to stress customer service and satisfaction to their down-line staff. KPIs and measurement systems can assist in the monitoring of improvements to ensure that clients’ charters are followed and quality service delivered. There also needs to be a greater alignment between ministries.

Ultimately, the public service delivery system must be owned not merely by the senior officers, but by civil service staff at allevels. Civil servants must be prepared and willing to be accountable for their performance.

Ongoing use of communications systems and ICT can provide tools for effective, integrated systems, but the determining factor wilalways be the attitude and willingness of the people involved to deliver the very best service.

Efforts should be intensified to reward high-performance individuals and action may need to be taken against incompetent ones. Cross fertilisation of ideas can be a tooto enhance performance through the secondment of civiservants to the private sector and the appointment of private sector experts to terms in the civil service.

What can the private sector do to improve PSD in Malaysia?
The private sector is entitled to expect world-class service from the PSD system. In turn, it must be prepared to acknowledge the extent of improvements that have been and are continuing to be delivered.

Where poor service or difficult relationships are encountered, the private sector must be prepared to raise these matters with appropriate senior civil servants and public sector departments so that remedial action can be taken. Equally, the public service must be prepared to receive complaints openly in the spirit of constructive criticism and take action accordingly.

Private sector companies that encounter problems should not resort to bribery or other corrupt practices as this will merely perpetuate problems and undermine efforts to improve the PSD system.

Master Builders Association Malaysia president Ng Kee Leen

How do you describe the importance of PSD to your industry and to Malaysia’s competitiveness?
Government policies are implemented by the public service sector and will impact every sector of the economy, the construction sector included. Malaysia’s government policies have always been forward-looking and over the years, have been progressive and have advanced our national interest. The future well-being and competitiveness of our economy, and certainly of the construction sector, wil continue to depend heavily on the continued improvement of policies and their effective delivery.

What should be priorities in improving PSD?
Consultation with the private sector is absolutely critical before new policies are formulated or changes made. The private sector needs to understand the objectives. At the same time, the public service needs to get feedback on the possible impact on the private sector. Neither the private sector nor the public sector wants to see policy U-turns due to implementation problems. These can be very disruptive and they affect investor confidence. We should aim for win-win outcomes.

What can the private sector do to improve PSD in Malaysia?
The private sector is ever ready to play our role in nation-building, and we welcome the opportunities given for regular dialogues with the various government authorities. We can contribute by giving constructive views. There could be avenues for joint initiatives to raise the capability and competitiveness of the Malaysian construction sector.

Malaysian Institute of Accountants president Nik Mohd Hasyudeen Yusoff

How do you describe the importance of PSD to your industry and to Malaysia’s competitiveness?
It is very important. First, it is directly involved in delivering justice, safety, health and education, which provide the foundation for a competitive economy. Second, it regulates business in order to create a healthy and competitive business environment.

What do you think of the rate and nature of improvements in PSD in recent years?
The Government has made commitment to improve the PSD system. Initiatives like Pemudah have enabled key business processes to be redesigned and simplified, while performance measures have been introduced to assess effectiveness. We still have a long way to go as the economic and business environment keep on changing, and Malaysia needs to respond to these changes quickly.

What should be priorities in improving PSD?
Improved transparency in decision-making criteria and a reasonable time-frame for matters to be resolved are required to improve PSD. Apart from that, regulation should strictly be based on necessity, and ways that cause the least inconvenience to businesses should always be given priority. Additionally, career paths in public service should be based on merit and performance.

What can the private sector do to improve PSD in Malaysia?
Public-private sector consultation has been a key feature in Malaysia in addressing issues and the private sector must leverage on this by providing quality feedback, ideas and proposals.

Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (Pikom) chairman David Wong

How do you describe the importance of PSD to your industry and to Malaysia’s competitiveness?
ICT has played a key role in enabling the efficiency of PSD. Through various IT and outsourcing services, many government agencies have adopted the use of ICT to ease their burden and improve customer service delivery.

An efficient PSD will enhance the competitiveness of our industry. It will create a conducive environment for foreign investments.

What do you think of the rate and nature of improvements in PSD in recent years?
During the last few years, the Government has made progress in strengthening the administrative machinery. Malaysia’s PSD has embarked on a new phase of development as it moves toward its aspiration of becoming a developed nation by 2020. Among its objectives is the enhancement of the PSD system by adopting ICT to improve access and delivery of government services.

A case in point is the growing popularity of the public services porta, MyGovernment (www.myeg.com).

What can the private sector do to improve PSD in Malaysia?
ICT companies can help improve PSD through the implementation of various solutions that can enhance the service delivery environment. These solutions enable greater cost control and improve the services and information available to the public and government institutions. This will also allow the public sector to focus on providing exceptional service.

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