Najib's ETP high-income promise is a practical joke

KUALA LUMPUR: The government’s promise of high wage by 2020 is nothing but a deception, said Research for Social Advancement (Refsa), echoing past accusations from various quarters.

In its periodic critical report of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), the group sought to debunk the blueprint’s key aspects.

It said that there was nothing transformational about the administration’s aim to double gross national income (GNI) per capita to RM48,000 by 2020.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is betting on three key pillars of the ETP to stay in power, but analysts and opposition leaders say the “highly glossed” targets are questionable and lacked data transparency.

“The most prominent one is to double GNI per capita to RM48,000 by 2020 from just RM23,700 in 2009.

“That will be the indicator that Malaysia has arrived as a developed nation according to Pemandu, the government agency charged with driving the ETP.

“What Pemandu has been less than transparent in communicating is that the RM48,000 target is for nominal income per capita, not real income. The difference is all important,” said Refsa.

It said Pemandu had “avoided” including inflation rates in its projection, meaning the figure given would be much lower in terms of purchasing power.

“Malaysians would remain not far off from where they are today. The sum of RM48,000 in 2020 will be worth a lot less than RM48,000 today, thanks to ever rising prices,” said the Refsa report.

‘Basic maths all wrong’

Refsa also said Pemandu had inflated the target figure through “afflicting data”.

Malaysia was already achieving a growth rate that could have produced a nominal GNI per capita that would exceed RM48,000 by 2018.

This means the target set by the government was easily achievable if the growth rate could be sustained and there’s “nothing transformational” about the goal.

“Even the basic maths is wrong” said Refsa on Pemandu’s projections method.

The group also zoomed in on the “murkiness” around the data which Pemandu used to project its GNI per capita target.

This includes the absence of real information in four key areas of the ETP – the number of projects, its investments value, GNI contribution and job creation.

Refsa said they were “shrouded in haze” with missing key data. “These omissions raise the question of how the total expected investment GNI contribution and job creation headlines at each ETP updates, of which there have been eight so far, are calculated.”

For that, Refsa said it was grading the government’s data transparency as “E”. While Pemandu can be highly rated for its public relations activities, “sadly, the substance comes nowhere close to the style paraded”.

“Pemandu deserves an ‘A+’ for public relations but it gets an ‘E’ for data integrity,” said the report.

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