Govt to announce institutional reforms before truce ends

by ASILA JALIL / pic by BERNAMA

THE Government will make good its promises to the Opposition on institutional reforms and announce several measures before the period of political truce ends in eight months.

Deputy Sec-Gen of the Treasury (Policy) Zakiah Jaafar (picture) said the current administration is keen to instil change and there is an urgency to get things done.

The reforms are part of a deal the government has with the opposition Pakatan Harapan bloc to reduce politics in order to get things done to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“We have barely eight months before the memorandum of understanding (MoU) ends so we are in a hurry to ensure that the seeds for institutionalised reforms are in place.

“In the coming months, you will hear more announcements on this. We did not put them all in Budget 2022 because we do not want to distract people from the main messages of the budget,” she said at a session during the Hasanah Forum yesterday.

Among six key areas under the truce agreement include enhancing the Covid-19 plan, administrative transformation, parliamentary reform, judiciary independence, Malaysia Agreement 63 and the formation of a steering committee.

The government also promised not to dissolve parliament before July 31, 2022.

At the forum, Zakiah said there were structural obstacles to introduce development that is more inclusive and sustainable which need addressing.

One of which was employee compensation, which is expected to stagnate at 37% of GDP in 2022, compared with more than 40% of GDP in advanced and other emerging economies.

Most sustainable development goals (SDG) related to socio-economic dimension are progressing relatively well but Zakiah said selected SDGs related to the environment are underperforming.

Meanwhile Khazanah Research Institute senior research advisor Prof Jomo Kwame Sundaram said it was unfortunate that the current administration has called off the school breakfast programme which would benefit future generations.

The programme may be able to provide students with adequate nutrition in their meals with cooperation from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry.

He said the programme could also assist farmers who are faced with ecological problems to find new ways of moving forward by producing more fruits and vegetables which could significantly contribute to the improvement of the food programme.

“There is a certain degree of participation for the programme which creates a new ethos and is very important for the future generation. We see this in Japan and many other societies but unfortunately this is cancelled in Malaysia,” he said yesterday at the forum.

The free breakfast programme was first introduced by former education minister Dr Maszlee Malik in 2019.

In a parliamentary written reply dated Nov 15, the MoE said the government will not continue the programme following a Cabinet decision on Jan 15, 2020.

MoE said the government will instead continue with the existing additional food programme (RMT) and the milk programme which are both provided only for primary school students from the B40 group.